PORTLAND — A Maine man charged with murder nearly 38 years after the death of his baby son has pleaded not guilty.

Burton “Ben” Hagar was charged with murder after being indicted last week. The death of 4-month-old Nathan was originally classified as sudden infant death syndrome.

Hagar made his first court appearance Wednesday in Portland. His lawyer, Verne Paradie, said he will ask for bail at a later hearing. He says the fact that his client has no criminal history should help him argue that he should be released pending trial.

Hagar’s son was found unresponsive in the family’s Brunswick apartment and died at a hospital on May 9, 1979.

The investigation was assisted by the state police cold case unit, which became fully staffed as of last year.

Burton “Ben” Hagar


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