AUGUSTA — A Bangor man told a judge Monday he was possessed and therefore not responsible for the death of Melvin Abreu in June 2011 which occurred after an alcohol-fueled argument over religious beliefs.
“I don’t believe I am (responsible),” said William L. Hall, 32. “I prefer not to say that I threw him out the window. It was about a possession. It wasn’t me, I was trying to fight it off whatever you say, God or Satan. I didn’t intentionally kill Abreu.”
The remarks came after Hall pleaded guilty Monday to murdering Abreu and to escaping from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center less than three weeks later.
Hall said he was entering those pleas with the understanding that he would be found not criminally responsible.
Hall previously was found not competent to proceed and held at Riverview Psychiatric Center until Monday’s hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court.
Justice Ann Murray accepted the guilty pleas after hearing Debra Baeder, chief forensic psychologist of the State Forensic Service, testify that Hall was competent to enter pleas. Later, Baeder testified, “At the time of the offense, Hall was suffering from a longstanding psychotic mental illness.”
That finding, along with a joint recommendation from both the prosecutor and the defense attorney, led Murray to conclude that Hall was not criminally responsible for his actions.
Baeder said numerous psychiatrists and psychologists who dealt with Hall over the years found he had psychotic symptoms for years, including delusions and hallucinations.
“Mr. Hall has moments when he can interact with the world very rationally,” Baeder said, then went on to describe Hall’s long held beliefs that some men are serial rapists and that he has an implant behind his ear which makes him suspicious of the world.
Hall at one point told the judge he was made rather than born, but acknowledged his birth certificate lists his place of birth as Hudson, N.Y.
About Abreu’s death, Hall told the judge, “â€˜I was in a bout of possession. He got choked unconscious.”
Witnesses in Hall’s apartment said Hall and Abreu argued, and Hall strangled Abreu before throwing him out the window.
“I climbed down the fire escape and I tried to pray with him,” Hall told the judge. “Then I started dragging him around.”
Hall said Abreu’s head was leaking blood and other material.
“I knew him well,” Hall told the judge at one point. “He was in the bed next to me for months at the shelter.”
After Murray found Hall not criminally responsible for both Abreu’s murder and for escape, she ordered him placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. Hall will remain at Riverview for treatment.
After Hall pleaded guilty, Murray began asking him a series of questions about whether he understood the proceedings, taking a break when Hall began telling her how he disagreed with a number of details in the police reports.
Murray said she concluded that he was aware of what was happening and his question about whether she could set his level of privileges at the hospital — an administrative function of the hospital — “does suggest to me Mr. Hall does understand the route that we’re following.”
Hall was charged with intentional or knowing or depraved indifference murder in the June 9, 2011, Abreu, 28, following an argument between the men in Hall’s apartment.
After Bangor police arrived to find Abreu dead on the ground outside the apartment house, Hall told them Abreu jumped out of the window, Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea told the judge. “He said Melvin had a psychotic incident and started to yell and swear.” Shortly afterward, Zainea said Hall told police he beat up Abreu and threw him out the window.
Hall also told police that Abreu had previously raped two women “and if the Bangor Police Department had done their job he would not have to do what he did.”
A state medical examiner found Abreu died of multiple trauma, and suffered skull fractures as well as some injuries consistent with strangulation, Zainea told the judge in outlining the evidence against Hall.
Hall came into the courtroom with his ankles shackled and his hands cuffed to a leather belt around his waist. However, instead of a jail uniform, he wore a long-sleeved maroon button-down shirt and khaki trousers, which indicated he was staying at Riverview.
Baeder said she had evaluated him there as recently as Friday and spoke to him in the courthouse on Monday.
Two women whose role was unclear watched the hearing as well as a victim’s advocate from the Office of the attorney general.
Hall previously pleaded not guilty to the murder charge in Penobscot County and to the charge of escape, which occurred June 28, 2011.
After he was charged with murder, Hall had been taken from the Penobscot County Jail to the state hospital in Bangor for an evaluation. Zainea said Hall was escorted out for exercise that day and when hospital employees told him he could not have a cigarette, he removed his shoes, scaled a wall and fled.
He was found the next day in Brewer and told police he swam across the Penobscot River.
Before Monday’s hearing, Hall met briefly in a jury room with his attorney, Stephen C. Smith.
Smith told the judge that the pleas were in Hall’s best interest.