A Delaware County man suspected in the 2008 hit-and-run death of a Ridley High School student pleaded guilty this afternoon.

Lemuel Payne, of Upper Darby, pleaded to leaving the scene of an accident and tampering with physical evidence. The maximum penalty is nine years for both offenses.

In August, Faith Sinclair, an honors student, was crossing Chester Pike in Sharon Hill on her way to a sleepover when a black Mercedes-Benz hit her and drove off. Payne, 27, was arrested after police received a tip that he was the owner of the car suspected to be involved, and that it was parked in his garage.

After the plea, Kimberly Ferrell, Faith's mother, cried on the shoulder of her husband.

"It's just a relief," said Ferrell, adding her family would not have to endure a trial.

After the incident, Payne allegedly told his work supervisor that he was in trouble. Payne asked whether his supervisor had seen the news about the hit-and-run. Payne allegedly said he had "hit a girl, and that she died."

In a later conversation, according to the affidavit, Payne asked the supervisor to disregard the earlier call, "and as far as they were concerned, it was hearsay."

Contact staff writer Mari A. Schaefer at 610-892-9149 or mschaefer@phillynews.com.