Man pleads guilty to manslaughter

Posted July 17, 2009, at 10:42 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A homeless man accused of killing a fellow transient in April 2008 at a makeshift camp hidden in the woods along the highway pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Thursday in Penobscot County Superior Court.

Stephen James, 58, admitted to killing Clyde Worster, 63, who was found dead of blunt force trauma on April 27, 2008, at his transient campsite, located near the University College campus between the water tower and Interstate 95.

“He was indicted for murder but the state dropped murder and he pleaded guilty to manslaughter, which essentially is reckless or negligent killing of another person,” James’ attorney, F. David Walker IV of Bangor, said Friday of the plea agreement.

James will be sentenced in late August or early September, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson said. He faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison for manslaughter.

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James and Worster had been drinking together at a makeshift hangout on the day Worster was killed, and had fought over beer earlier in the day, James told the Bangor Daily News an hour before his arrest on April 28, 2008.

“They think I did it because we had an argument,” he said during that interview, the smell of alcohol on his breath. “I did beat him up, but he wasn’t dead when I left him.”

James was hanging out and drinking beer with two other homeless people at one of several transient campsites along the highway in Bangor while speaking to the BDN. The wooded area is known locally as The Pines. He told two reporters and a photographer that day that he probably would be charged with homicide.

Unable to make bail, James has been held at Penobscot County Jail since his arrest. According to court documents, he allegedly beat Worster to death with a log. Worster, who had a broken neck, died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, the court documents state.

James, who told the BDN he moved to Bangor a week before the incident, and Worster, who listed his address as the Acadia Recovery Community, both had long criminal records, and both men spent much of their lives on the streets or incarcerated.

Walker said his client’s sentencing would be a chance for James to tell his side of what happened on the day Worster died.

“There are a lot of details and facts that have not been released,” he said. “Most of the story hasn’t been told yet.”

nricker@bangordailynews.net

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