March 27, 2012 —
In 1996, the body of 48-year-old Demetrius Carter was found in a basement of a North Branch residence. Carter had been shot, tied up with duct tape and rolled up into a rug. The residence at the time was called Loyalty Lodge and was a home for adult AIDS patients. It was owned by the parents of a man named Besham “Brian” Sugrim.
At the time of the murder, the Sullivan County Sheriff’s office developed information that led them to believe that Brian may have been involved. Officials categorized him as a person of interest, but there was not enough evidence to charge him.
Sixteen years later, Brian’s wife Bernadette was instrumental in helping to bring a guilty verdict against him in a separate murder in Kalamazoo, MI. On February 15, a jury there convicted him of killing a woman named Linda Kay Gibson in 2003, who was described in local news papers as a prostitute.
That investigation gained momentum in May 2011 after Brian was arrested for severely beating the couple’s daughter. After that arrest, Bernadette told police that Brian had earlier admitted to her that he had killed Gibson.
According to the Kalamazoo Gazette, Bernadette described Brain as abusive and she did not tell police about her knowledge of the murder before the arrest in May because she feared for her life and the lives of her children. During the trial, Bernadette was also asked about the murder in North Branch in 1996, and she said that she knew that Brian had committed that one as well.
In an interview with the Gazette, Bernadette said that several years after the 1996 murder, “He actually pointed out where he did it. ‘This was where I killed that guy. I shot him in the head, wrapped him up,’” she added, “His reason — it staggered a little bit each time he talked about it — but the first time he said it was meant to be his father, and then he said he knew this guy had AIDS, no life, and it didn't matter if he lived or died. I think he just wanted to kill somebody."
The Sullivan County Sheriffs Office talked with Bernadette before the trial began, and said she provided details of the crime that only the murderer could have known or told her. Officials have re-submitted all of the evidence from the crime for testing again to see if some DNA evidence can be discovered with technology that was not available in 1996.
Still, it’s not yet clear if Brian will be formally changed with killing Carter because of a New York State law that prohibits a wife from testifying against her husband.
He is expected to be sentenced to life in prison in April for the Gibson murder.