Maine police investigate beating death

Posted May 24, 2010, at 7:15 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — A 20-year-old man was charged with aggravated assault Monday after a man’s death in a random attack in downtown Portland shortly after bars closed during the weekend, police said.

Eric Benson, 24, of Westbrook was walking with a female friend when they were confronted by William Googins of Gray and two other men at 1:25 a.m. Sunday in Monument Square, said Assistant Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.

The woman stood behind Benson after the men made derogatory remarks toward her, Sauschuck said. Googins allegedly punched Benson in the head, sending him to the ground where he hit his head.

Benson later died at Maine Medical Center. Googins was charged with aggravated assault after turning himself in Monday afternoon. Sauschuck said it would be up to the District Attorney’s Office to determine whether additional charges are warranted.

The victim and the suspects didn’t know each other and just happened to cross each other’s paths after a night out in the Old Port area of the city, Sauschuck said.

“This was a random event,” he said.

Police know the identities of the other men, but they have not been charged.

Police said the Maine medical examiner’s office had completed its autopsy, but a spokeswoman for the office said no information was being released Monday.

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