FARMINGTON — A former Wilton man charged with beating his grandmother to death last year will have to make a decision soon about whether to plead not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, his attorney said Tuesday.

Dana Craney, 23, is being held without bail at the Franklin County jail in Farmington. He’s been held there, and at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, since his Dec. 21, 2014, arrest.

With his trial tentatively set to begin in June, Craney must decide whether to plead not guilty or not criminally responsible by reason of insanity soon, his attorney, Woody Hanstein, said Tuesday. He’ll also have to decide whether to have a jury or bench trial.

“We’re getting to the point where Mr. Craney will need to make elections about which plea he would like to advance,” Hanstein, of Farmington, said in a phone interview.

Craney was arrested Dec. 21, 2014 and charged with the Dec. 20 murder of his grandmother, Joanne Goudreau, 67, at the mobile home they shared at 1130 Weld Road in Wilton. She was found by police under a pile of plywood and other debris, beaten to death.

At his Jan. 30 arraignment, Craney entered a plea of not guilty to the murder charge.

Justice Robert Mullen tentatively has set a trial date for June, and Hanstein said Tuesday that the trial probably would begin around then. The final decision about whether Craney’s plea will include not criminally responsible by reason of insanity and his decision to have a jury trial or waive a jury will need to be made on or before March 1, according to a court document filed by Mullen. Hanstein said that decision could come earlier.

Since his incarceration last December, Craney has undergone two rounds of competence evaluations as well as a criminal responsibility evaluation, which was completed over the summer, Hanstein said. He told the court last year that Craney may have “significant mental health issues,” and on Tuesday he said Craney’s “psychological hospitalization has been voluminous since he was a child.”

The results of the evaluations will be included in the trial if it is determined the statements Craney made to police in a post-Miranda interview — after he was told he had a right to remain silent and be represented by an attorney — are admissible in court or not, based on whether Craney’s thought process is altered by mental illness, Hanstein said.

According to the police affidavit filed Dec. 21, in a post-Miranda interview, Craney admitted to beating Goudreau in the head six or seven times with a hammer while she slept and then brought her body behind the mobile home they lived in and covered her body with plywood and bags of trash with the intent of disposing the remains later.

The first competence evaluation was conducted early this year at Riverview Psychiatric Center. Hanstein had requested that Craney be transferred to the hospital after “he was having some significant problems in the jail,” he said Tuesday.

After a few months of observation at Riverview, Craney was transferred back to Franklin County jail.

According to a Sept. 17 court order, a request Hanstein had filed for additional competence evaluations was granted by Mullen and was to be completed by the State Forensic Service for the evaluation of Craney’s competence to proceed. Because Craney is in state custody, the evaluation was required to be conducted within 21 days of the court order.

Hanstein said that this most recent evaluation has been completed.

Hanstein wrote in his Sept. 9 motion for the additional evaluation request that when he met with him, Craney was “absolutely unable to be focused as to the options that might be available to him to resolve this case.

“His mood and speech became so pressured that he was unable to work with me or even converse with me about the topic at hand,” Hanstein wrote.

The evaluations and hospitalization have prolonged the trial process slightly, but Hanstein said that was to be expected.

“Nothing about this case so far has been unusual based on what we knew going into it,” Hanstein said

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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