AUGUSTA — A judge ruled Monday that a Sidney man is competent to stand trial after watching jailhouse video footage of him eating dinner and playing cards with fellow inmates of the Kennebec County jail.

The silent, color film clips from last November and December were played in Kennebec County Superior Court as part of the prosecutor’s successful effort to convince a judge that Eric Bard, 24, is competent to stand trial. His defense attorneys have maintained that Bard has pervasive developmental disorder and is unable to assist them in his own defense and should be found incompetent to stand trial.

Justice Donald Marden ruled Monday that Bard could stand trial on charges he sexually assaulted a 4-year-old he was babysitting and recorded it. Marden also gave defense attorneys 24 hours to indicate whether Bard would be changing his not guilty pleas to the 21 separate charges against him, all but one of which carry penalties of 10 to 30 years.

Another of Bard’s attorneys, Gina Yamartino, argued that being in court increases Bard’s anxiety.

“He shuts down,” Yamartino said.

She also cited a forensic psychologist’s report that indicated it was difficult for Bard to concentrate for more than an hour at a time.


The prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General Paul Rucha, countered by saying, “The problem is he can’t sustain his faking long enough.”

Rucha said Bard intentionally misleads evaluators about his intellectual capability, and Rucha quoted selections from the report of Ann LeBlanc, forensic psychologist and director of the State Forensic Service, who assessed Bard several times at Riverview Psychiatric Center.

“This issue we have here is Mr. Bard is not willing to put forth the effort to show he’s competent,” Rucha said. “His reason is to delay this matter.”

Marden addressed a number of the issues in his oral ruling from the bench.

“The convenience of the court is not an issue,” he said. “If the trial takes place one hour at a time, so be it.”

Marden said the defense attorneys are responsible for explaining things to Bard and that if requested, he would consider appointing a professional to assist that communication.


“It’s clear to this court there are limitations,” Marden said. “They represent a significant challenge to counsel.”

But he added, “Our society expects that if a person is charged with committing a crime, unless they are totally incompetent and unable to participate, they have a right to trial, to a jury.”

Marden also said the trial could be held shortly and that a large jury pool would be summoned in an effort to seat a jury in Kennebec County.

The defense had sought a change of venue, citing the amount of pretrial publicity in the case.

Bard has been held either at the jail or at Riverview Psychiatric Center, where he underwent forensic examinations for competency since his arrest two years ago.

The slow rocking forward and back of the upper body and the finger-twirling Bard exhibits in the courtroom contrasted sharply with his behavior in the jail next door. The video clips — taken from surveillance videos of a common area in the jail — showed him walking back and forth, reading papers with other inmates, playing cards with them and eating.


Bard was sometimes in a white T-shirt with dark pants and sometimes in a green jail uniform, but he was distinguishable by his long dark hair, pulled together loosely at the nape of his neck, and by his relatively short stature — 4-foot-11 — in comparison to the other inmates and corrections officers visible.

An audio recording of Bard being arrested in July 2012, which was also played in court on Monday, had him asking several questions of Maine State Police Detective Christopher Tremblay after Tremblay told him about ways to get out of jail on bail.

“How long will that take?” Bard asks. “Will I be in jail for days, weeks, months?”

Bard has not spoken aloud in the courtroom despite many days of hearings on issues of competency. When his attorneys want to address him, they tap him lightly on the shoulder to get his attention off the floor.

Marden also rejected a move by the defense to have the indictment against Bard dismissed. Defense attorney Ronald Bourget said District Attorney Maeghan Maloney improperly contacted two agencies that might well have provided mental health services to Bard in the community if he had been released on bail.

Representatives from the two agencies, Full Circle Supports in Hallowell and Pillars Community Outreach in Waterville, testified Monday that Maloney’s phone calls had no impact on their decision not to accept Bard in their programs.


Bard’s mother watched the first few hours of the hearing.

Marden had yet to hear a defense motion to suppress evidence in the case, so the hearing is scheduled to resume 1 p.m. Wednesday in the same courtroom.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

Twitter: @betadams

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