ALFRED (AP) – The case against a man accused of killing a Canadian tourist in Old Orchard Beach took a dramatic turn Wednesday when Benjamin Humphrey pleaded guilty to manslaughter, and prosecutors said his sister has been charged with murder.

On the brink of his murder trial in York County Superior Court, Humphrey, 30, of Presque Isle, agreed to the lesser charge and received a five-year prison sentence. His sister Kelly was indicted for intentional, knowing or depraved indifference murder in the death of Derek Rogers, as well as perjury.

Deputy Attorney General Bill Stokes said evidence implicating Angela “Kelly” Humphrey came to light that may have compromised the state’s case against her brother. That prompted prosecutors’ decision to negotiate a guilty plea.

“We’re not happy with it,” Stokes said. “You’ve got two people clearly involved with this. … They’re essentially pointing the finger at each other, and the circumstances are unclear of what happened out on the beach.”

Nearly a year has passed since Rogers’ body was found, partially buried in sand, off the Randall boardwalk in the tourist town’s Ocean Park neighborhood.

Rogers, 47, of Russell, Ontario, was out for a late-night stroll last July 31 when he encountered a group that included Benjamin and Kelly Humphrey, and Benjamin’s girlfriend Aimee Pelletier, according to a state police affidavit.

Kelly Humphrey, who is now being held on an unrelated charge at the state prison in Windham, told a state police detective that Rogers introduced himself to the group, said he’d return with beer and began drinking with them, according to the affidavit.

Later, a fight broke out between Rogers and Benjamin Humphrey after the Canadian man, referring to Kelly’s Sioux heritage, called her a “squaw,” which is a disparaging term, she told police.

Rogers was trying to get away when he fell on the boardwalk, Kelly told detectives. She said she saw her brother pick up several handfuls of sand, put them in Rogers’ face, nose and mouth, and tell him to be quiet and die.

Kelly then tried to get help from Pelletier, she told police, but the man had died by the time they returned.

Kelly said she was screaming for help when her brother pulled up in a 1988 Ford Escort and demanded they leave.

The Canadian man’s body was found on the beach hours later with at least one blow to the head and a large amount of sand running off his head and onto his torso. The cause of death was ruled to be asphyxiation.

Stokes said the perjury charge stemmed from testimony Kelly gave to a York County grand jury.

Prosecutors had used Kelly’s testimony to charge Pelletier with assault.

But all charges against Humphrey’s girlfriend were dropped after investigators determined that she hadn’t been at the scene and therefore could not have committed assault, Stokes said.

The grand jury brought the charges against Kelly Humphrey last Wednesday, but they were temporarily sealed because of a fear that publicity would pollute the jury pool for Benjamin’s trial.

Neale Duffett, Kelly’s lawyer, did not return calls seeking comment on the charges.

As part of the guilty plea, Justice Robert E. Crowley sentenced Benjamin Humphrey to 20 years in prison, with all but five years suspended.

The sentence means that Humphrey will serve five years in prison, followed by six years of probation. Stokes said that if Humphrey violates probation, he would have to serve out the rest of his 20-year sentence.

AP-ES-07-16-03 1806EDT



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