AUGUSTA — A man found not criminally responsible three years ago for stabbing his older brother to death on a visit to North Haven island got a judge’s approval Friday to move from a group home to a supervised apartment in Augusta.
The request from Enoch Petrucelly, 28, who has been living in a group home on Glenridge Drive near Riverview Psychiatric Center, was supported by his treatment team, by Debra Baeder, chief forensic psychologist of the State Forensic Service, and by his mother, Roseanne Towle.
“It was my idea,” said Towle, when she responded to a couple of questions Friday from Justice Paul A. Fritzsche in Kennebec County Superior Court.
“I’m just very pleased the way things are going,” she said. “I know a lot of people think we should be reacting differently.”
The judge thanked her for her input, telling her, “It’s a very unfortunate place you find yourself.”
Towle and her husband, Petrucelly’s stepfather, talked to Petrucelly, who was dressed in a suit, several times during recesses.
Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha asked that the judge’s order prohibits Petrucelly from having overnight visitors and require him to have all visitors approved by Petrucelly’s treatment team. Petrucelly’s attorney, Harold Hainke, agreed to the change, and the judge included it as well as Baeder’s recommendation of a 13-hour limit to Petrucelly’s work and free time hours.
“Mr. Petrucelly has had quite a smooth course through the forensic treatment process and been free of psychotic symptoms for quite some time,” Baeder testified Friday.
She said Petrucelly would benefit from the additional privacy provided by a supervised apartment and would still be required to sign in and out as well as provide details of his excursions.
Baeder said Petrucelly takes daily antipsychotic mediation under supervision and tolerates it well. She said she was not surprised with Petruccelly’s relatively rapid progress through the treatment system.
“Typically those with personality pathology have a rockier course,” she said. “He doesn’t suffer from personality pathology, and he is not a client who would be sneaky.”
Baeder attributed Petrucelly’s success in treatment to his youth and his good health.
She said neither he nor family members were aware he was having problems in the months leading up to the stabbing death of his brother Michael in August 2008. “It would be a rare family that would identify that psychotic first break,” Baeder said.
In an affidavit filed at that time, Maine State Police said the brothers, of Palmyra, had taken a ferry to the island, and while Michael was sleeping, Enoch Petrucelly stabbed his brother three times with a wooden cane with a sword inside, aiming for his heart.
Fritzsche approved the new housing order, saying the graduated approach seems appropriate and is supported by family. “It seems the proper direction,” he said.
While Petrucelly got permission to move from a group home setting, William Bruce, 32, who has been committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center since 2007 after being found not criminally responsible for killing his mother with a hatchet in her Caratunk home, got permission to move in. On Friday, Bobby Morton, a nurse practitioner treating Bruce, said the treatment team supports the move to the Glenridge Drive group home, as well as up to four hours of unsupervised time plus employment.
Morton testified that Bruce’s stay has been rocky, and he gained, then lost various privileges as he struggled with distortions in thinking. Morton said a recent change in the treatment approach has dramatically improved Bruce’s behavior.
Bruce is housed on a unit at Riverview that has 23 other patients and numerous staff.
“Overall his living situation will be less busy, and I think his progress and recovery in that situation will definitely stand to benefit,” Morton said.
Morton said Bruce is permitted to leave the hospital to go on outings supervised by his father or uncle, but that a change in residence will aid his treatment.
State Forensic Service Director Ann LeBlanc testified in favor of the move.
“For all these patients, they eventually have to live in the real world,” she said. “For many of these patients, the hospital is not the real world. The next small step for Mr. Bruce would be a small group home. There’s still plenty of rules and plenty of staff.”
Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak Smith sought closer limits on Bruce’s free time if he moved to the group home. The judge agreed to the modifications.
Betty Adams — 621-5631