A Riverview Psychiatric Center patient who was shot by an Augusta police officer in January 2015 has lost his appeal to be released from state custody.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Dec. 22 affirmed a decision issued in Kennebec County a year ago by Superior Court Justice Donald Marden, who rejected Jason Begin’s plea to be discharged from state supervision. Marden allowed him to regain some privileges he lost when he began stabbing himself and threatening to harm others after being told he was going to be returned to Riverview in January 2015. Begin was an outpatient living in a supervised group home at that point.

“We conclude that the trial court was not compelled to find in Begin’s favor on his petition for release,” wrote Associate Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gorman for the five-judge panel. The decision followed oral arguments held on Nov. 9.

Begin, through attorney Rory McNamara, had asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court in Portland to vacate Marden’s order.

“(Begin) suffers from a dislike of Riverview, not a mental disease or defect,” McNamara wrote in his brief. “(Begin) remembers ‘being sexually and physically assaulted at, at least, three different institutions.'”

The state, through the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office, asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to uphold Marden’s decision. Assistant District Attorney David Spencer argued orally on behalf of the state.

Begin, now 38, was committed to the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004 after being found not criminally responsible for theft of an airplane and violating conditions. He crash-landed the plane in Canada in 2003 in an apparent failed suicide attempt while he was facing charges of sexually assaulting family members.

Gorman outlined Begin’s earlier history, saying that he’s been diagnosed with “schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, mixed developmental disorder, bipolar affective disorder, evasive developmental disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, borderline mental retardation, major depressive disorder, pedophilia, cannabis abuse, and personality disorder not otherwise specified.”

She noted that “he has a history of perpetrating physical and verbal violence when his wishes are not met” and said that testimony from mental health professionals supported Marden’s finding “that Begin is a danger to himself or others as a result of his mental disease or defect.”

Gorman also noted, “As we have explained, whether the acquittee (a person found not criminally responsible for a crime) suffers from a mental disease or defect ‘is ultimately a legal, as opposed to a medical, determination to be made by the court.'”

Begin had lived at Riverview for more than nine years before getting court permission in the fall of 2013 to move to a supervised group home in Augusta.

In January 2015 Begin began stabbing himself with a knife and threatened to hurt others when a Riverview outpatient team told him he was being returned to the hospital during an investigation into a report that he had used marijuana and sold it to someone. At the time, Begin had been living in supervised housing in Augusta and working at a retail store.

Augusta police Officer Laura Drouin shot Begin three times to get him to stop. Begin spent five weeks hospitalized at MaineGeneral Medical Center being treated for his wounds. The state attorney general concluded that Drouin was justified in her actions.

Begin, through attorneys Bradford Pattershall and Matthew Bowe, is suing Drouin and the City of Augusta over the incident, and maintains that his gunshot wounds — one in the left shoulder and two in the chest — have left him with a permanently paralyzed left arm.

The lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Bangor. The city and Drouin are represented by attorneys Edward Benjamin Jr. and Kasia Park.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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