Staff Writer

A Corinna man who illegally possessed a gun after he was committed to a mental institution will not go to jail.

Kenneth L. Goodrich, 41, will, however, serve three years of probation and be required to continue treatment for his mental health, Judge John Woodcock Jr. decided in U.S. District Court in Bangor on Monday.

Goodrich had argued that his right to bear arms under the Second Amendment was violated when he was prevented from owning a rifle because of his prior involuntary commitment to a psychiatric hospital.

“The due process due to individuals who are tagged with the label ‘mentally ill’ should be balanced against the same individual’s right to a firearm under the 2nd Amendment,” defense attorney Stephen Smith wrote in federal court papers.

Though Goodrich entered a guilty plea on Aug. 19, he made it a conditional one, allowing him to later appeal the matter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

It’s not yet clear whether Goodrich will appeal. His attorney, Smith, did not return phone calls on Tuesday.

The case raises the issue of gun control for the mentally ill.

Goodrich’s brother, Perley Goodrich Jr., of Newport, was found guilty this year of manslaughter for shooting their father to death in 2009. Their mother testified she brought Perley Goodrich to a psychiatric hospital several times in the week before the shooting.

Don Clark, public information officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the law that prevents people from possessing guns if they’ve been committed to a mental institution is in place for safety reasons.

“The statute serves as a means to decrease the risk of violence against others and also suicides by those suffering from mental illness,” he said on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney F. Todd Lowell said Kenneth Goodrich has been out on bail for about a year and has been receiving what appears to be effective treatment.

On Monday, Woodcock “talked a little bit about not wanting Mr. Goodrich to end up in a situation that his brother was in, but was optimistic that the progress he has shown … has really made a difference,” Lowell said.

He said he was satisfied with the sentence. “The government believed it was an appropriate sentence. The court carefully considered the evidence and the circumstances of the case,” he said.

On April 20, 2006, Goodrich was involuntarily hospitalized at The Acadia Hospital, a psychiatric hospital in Bangor, according to court papers. The documents do not state what caused Goodrich to be hospitalized.

While Smith argued that a doctor at Acadia later told Goodrich in a letter he could have possession of firearms again, Woodcock determined that the letter did not address whether possession would be illegal.

Goodrich went to the Moosehead Trail Trading Post in Palmyra on April 1, 2009, and completed paperwork to buy a gun. He answered no to a question that asked whether he had ever been committed to a mental institution.

Because Maine does not report involuntary hospital commitments to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the federal system reported to the trading post that Goodrich could buy the gun.

He returned two days later and purchased a Mosin-Nagant rifle manufactured in Russia.

Law enforcement later recovered the gun from Goodrich’s home in Corinna on April 11 of that year. He was indicted on the federal charge March 18, 2010.

Goodrich had faced up to 10 years in prison and up to $250,000 in fines. He is prohibited from possessing firearms or consuming alcohol and must continue counseling and taking prescribed medications.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368

[email protected]

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.