AUGUSTA — A Riverview Psychiatric Center outpatient shot in January by a police officer in an effort to get him to stop stabbing himself wants to get out of the forensic hospital and out of state custody altogether.

A judge heard testimony on the issue Friday at the Capital Judicial Center, and it was not clear whether it would be concluded by the end of the day.

The hearing was a continuation of one that had begun Oct. 6 on a petition for release filed by Jason Begin, 37. Begin was placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004 after being found not criminally responsible for hijacking a plane and crashing in Canada in an apparent attempt to kill himself when he was facing charges of gross sexual assault involving family members. He was found not criminally responsible because of mental illness.

Begin had been out of the hospital and living for a year in a group home on Green Street in Augusta when he was called to a meeting of Riverview’s outpatient services team Jan. 12 and asked about a report he was using marijuana or supplying it to other forensic outpatients at the home.

Reports indicate that when he was told he would be returned to Riverview, Begin became agitated, threatened others and pulled out a knife and began stabbing himself in the arms.

Augusta police Officer Laura Drouin, who had been called by the team to escort Begin the few blocks to Riverview because of safety concerns, shot him three times.

A report on an investigation by the Office of the Maine Attorney General on that officer-involved shooting has not been released, and Tim Feeley, a spokesman for that office, said Friday there was no timeline for that report. The office routinely investigates shootings involving law enforcement officers.

Begin was treated for gunshot wounds at MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta and was returned to Riverview on Feb. 27.

On Friday, there were no visible signs of those injuries. Begin wore street clothes, including a short-sleeved blue shirt with black stripes. One of his wrists was handcuffed and connected to a belt around his waist. His ankles were shackled as well, and he was kept in the inmate holding area when he was not in the courtroom.

As he was being led away during the lunch recess, he waved to several people in the courtroom who appeared to be relatives or friends.

Begin’s attorney, Matthew Bowe, questioned Miriam Davidson, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Riverview, about a report she and other hospital personnel had prepared on Begin in light of his request.

The hospital previously had opposed his release into the community.

Davidson said Begin’s current diagnosis was one of post-traumatic stress disorder, pedophilic disorder, personality disorders including narcissistic and histrionic disorders, and some history of malingering or trying to mislead providers.

She testified that she had seen no evidence of psychosis since she started working with him in February 2015.

Davidson testified that health care providers theorize that Begin had been diagnosed with schizophrenia at a younger age when he mimicked psychotic symptoms he saw in his grandmother, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Records show that Begin was first diagnosed with behavioral problems around age 3 and that he jumped out of a car while his mother was returning him to a residential placement site in Massachusetts when he was about 9 or 10 years old. He also previously attempted suicide by hanging himself in the shower at Riverview.

She said Canadian mental health providers evaluated him and also came up with the schizophrenia diagnosis.

“We think he may have been feigning his symptoms then as well,” she said.

Davidson said Begin made the most progress toward recovery in the year when he was in the group home because he held a job and was taking college classes as well as receiving outpatient treatment.

She said she has some concerns about his insight into his current situation and said he regularly voices his “disgust” about being in the hospital.

“He has this black-and-white thinking, part of which can lead to problems when he interprets things a certain way and it doesn’t turn out that way,” she said.

She cited his distress when he was being told he had to go back to Riverview on Jan. 12.

“His symptoms become most pronounced when he feels he’s being controlled or thwarted,” she said.

Davidson also said Begin did not tell her that the treatment team had explained that his return to Riverview was likely to be only for two days until the issue could be resolved. Those details came out only because Begin apparently hid an audio recorder on himself that recorded the entire event at the Ballard Center on Jan. 12, according to court testimony Friday.

Dr. Daniel Filene, a Riverview psychiatrist, testified that Begin’s reaction to the rehospitalization was out of proportion to the threat.

“The stimulus was coming from outside. The amplification was coming from within,” he said.

He also said Begin has indicated he believes he will be allowed to leave the hospital, so he has not been as engaged in treatment. Filene also testified that Begin indicated there could be a civil lawsuit related to the shooting.

On Friday, in response to questions from Assistant District Attorney David Spencer, Filene said he had some long-term concerns about Begin, both for his safety and that of others.

Another witness, Dennis Snelling, of Vassalboro, an elder with the Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation, said he met Begin in February at MaineGeneral Medical Center and continues to meet with him weekly at Riverview for spiritual studies. He said meetings would continue if Begin is released.

It was not clear when the judge would rule on the petition.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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