HOULTON, Maine — A Florida man indicted on a murder charge for allegedly strangling his 86-year-old neighbor in Presque Isle last summer will plead guilty to a reduced count of manslaughter, according to his attorney.
Robert Craig, 81, of Clearwater, Florida, has reached an agreement with the state attorney general’s office that will be presented at 1 p.m. Thursday in Houlton Superior Court, defense attorney Stephen Smith said Wednesday.
Craig will plead guilty to manslaughter in exchange for a 30-year sentence, Smith said. The judge would still need to approve any deal.
When asked why the 81-year-old would accept what amounts to a life-sentence, Smith said he would prefer to wait to answer that question, though he admitted “some interesting thought process” went into the agreement.
The attorney general’s office did not respond Wednesday to requests for comment on the case.
The body of 86-year-old Leo Corriveau was found by family members on July 23, 2016, in the backyard of his Route 1 home.
Craig was arrested in connection with the death by two Maine State Police detectives a few days later, on July 28, near his home in Clearwater.
Craig and Corriveau had known each other for four years as neighbors in a mobile home community in the Tampa area, where Corriveau spent his winters, according to a court affidavit filed in Presque Isle District Court by Maine State Police Sgt. Darrin Crane.
An autopsy by the state medical examiner determined that Corriveau was strangled, suffered broken ribs and cuts on his arm and head and likely died at least 40 hours before he was found. The affidavit did not specify a motive for the killing.
Corriveau had returned to Maine from Florida on July 12 with Craig, who worked in lawn maintenance in Florida most of his life, according to the affidavit.
Craig stayed with Corriveau for a while in Presque Isle and even met some of Corriveau’s nine grown children. But at one point Corriveau told a relative that Craig was lazy and he wanted him to leave, the affidavit said.
Corriveau’s red Buick Enclave sport-utility vehicle was missing from his home when his body was discovered, but police later found it at Dysart’s in Hermon, where Craig is believed to have driven it before taking a bus back to Florida, according to investigators.
Bangor Daily News writers Nok-Noi Ricker and Jen Lynds contributed to this report.