Judge won't dismiss charge that Brunswick man murdered infant son

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PORTLAND — A motion to dismiss the indictment of a Brunswick man charged last year with murdering his 4-month-old son in 1979 was denied July 10 in Superior Court.

Verne Paradie, the attorney for Burton Hagar, on Wednesday said his client will now enter a contingent plea of guilty to manslaughter, per an agreement with the state. The plea will be followed by an appeal to the Supreme Judicial Court.

According to court documents, the contingent plea agreement between the state and Hagar will resolve the case with a manslaughter plea and a specified sentence if Hagar is not successful in Cumberland County Superior Court or on appeal.

The agreement also allows Hagar to appeal the Superior Court’s ruling after entering a conditional plea.

Hagar pleaded not guilty to murdering his son in April 2017, after Maine State Police arrested him for the 38-year-old crime at his home in Farmington earlier that month.

Last year, Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said police had recently discovered new information regarding the death of Nathan Hagar, Burton Hagar’s son.

Nathan Hagar died at Parkview Hospital in Brunswick on May 9, 1979, after being found unresponsive at his father’s School Street apartment.

Paradie said via email July 11 that his motion to dismiss was based on “lack of trustworthy evidence to support a conviction.” A hearing was held by Justice Thomas Warren April 10.

Paradie argued that whether Nathan Hagar died of sudden infant death syndrome or was smothered  “cannot be resolved by medical evidence.”

The state argued there is sufficient evidence, in addition to Hagar’s “numerous confessions beginning approximately 10 years after Nathan’s death” to defeat the motion to dismiss.

Elizabeth Clemente can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100 or eclemente@theforecaster.net. Follow Elizabeth on Twitter @epclemente.

Defense attorney Verne Paradie, left, with client Burton Hagar, who is charged with murdering his 4-month-old son in 1979, at Hagar’s Superior Court arraignment last year in Portland.