By Dan Hust
NORTH BRANCH Demetrius Carter was alone in life but not in death,
and local police think they may finally have his killer.
State Police and Sheriff’s Office investigators have been speaking with Bern-adette Sugrim of Kalamazoo, Michigan, who has told them and the press that she believes her husband murdered Carter 16 years ago.
The body of the 48-year-old Carter was found inside a North Branch boardinghouse on March 1, 1996, with a subsequent obituary in the Democrat listing the date of death as February 26.
Police even then identified it as a murder, but no one was ever arrested.
At the time, Besham “Brian” Sugrim was living there with his parents, who operated a group home for the medically disabled called Loyalty Lodge out of the rambling house.
Carter, a Philadelphia native suffering with the AIDS virus, had lived there for 14 months. He had no family. He was reported missing, then found in the home’s basement, wrapped up in a rug.
In reports in the Kalamazoo Gazette, Bernadette said she was dating Besham during that period, during which he allegedly spoke of the murder.
Later, after they were married, she alleged Besham confessed the details of Carter’s killing to her, saying she did not report that to police out of fear for her and their two children’s safety.
Besham, however, was arrested and imprisoned in 2011 for beating the couple’s daughter with a martial arts stick. Based in part on Bernadette’s testimony, he was later charged with and ultimately convicted at a February trial of murdering a 39-year-old prostitute in 2003.
He is currently awaiting sentencing in Michigan, which the Gazette says will be life without parole.
In the meantime, Sullivan County District Attorney Jim Farrell is looking into whether charges can be filed against Besham locally.
“[The murder case] is being re-examined very closely,” Farrell acknowledged on Friday. “We’ll determine how to proceed based on what we discover.”
Ironically, the police cannot use Besham’s wife’s testimony against him, as New York law prohibits a spouse from disclosing confidential conversations without the consent of the other spouse.
But DNA or other forensic evidence will be looked at again, and if Besham is connected to the crime, Farrell plans to prosecute.
“He was a suspect back in 1996,” the DA confirmed. “... If we can get justice, we sure as hell are going to try.”
For a gruesome but detailed account of Bernadette Sugrim’s memories and feelings about her husband (whom she plans to divorce), the Kalamazoo Gazette conducted an in-depth, five-part interview with her last month.
It can be read at http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/02/bernadette_sugrim_no_longer_si.html.