AUGUSTA — For the second time in 13 years, a Maine man was found not criminally responsible for setting fire to a home he owned.

Scott John Audet, 44, initially had pleaded not guilty to the more recent charge of arson in connection with a Jan. 28, 2015, fire that damaged his Vassalboro home.

However, at the request of both the state and defense attorneys, Justice Robert Mullen found Audet not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.

At a hearing Friday at the Capital Judicial Center, Mullen said he based that finding on a report from an evaluator with the State Forensic Service.

He said the 15-page report indicated Audet suffered from mental illness “basically for (his) entire adult life and a lot of years as a minor. This is a clear-cut case of a finding that should be made that Mr. Audet is not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect.”

Mullen ordered Audet placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Heath and Human Services and placed at an appropriate facility.

Audet has been held at Riverview Psychiatric Center, and he returned there Friday.

On Friday, Assistant District Attorney Francis Griffin outlined the evidence he said the state would introduce if Audet had chosen to go to trial on the more recent arson charge.

Griffin said officers, including Sgt. Kenneth Grimes with the Office of State Fire Marshal, responded to a report of a suicidal man wanting to burn his house down.

They saw a man on the front porch talking on a phone and then disappeared into the home, which already was burning.

Then the man — later identified as Audet — came out of the house hollering, “Burn, burn, I want to die.”

They took him into custody as the fire raged.

Later, Audet told them he was sorry and didn’t want anyone to get hurt.

He told officers he lit his bedroom and living room on fire.

Audet’s attorney, Harold “Hank” Hainke, answering the judge’s question, said he believed the state could produce that testimony and prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Audet was not charged with the arson until Nov. 1, 2016. On Friday, Audet waived his right to have the grand jury consider the case and return an indictment.

Audet has a history of treatment at Riverview. After being found criminally not responsible in March 2004 on charges that he had set fire in 2003 to a home he owned at 146 Oak St. in Oakland, Audet was committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, according to court records.

The court retained jurisdiction of the case, which was last heard in 2011, when a judge ruled that he could be allowed to self-administer medication and could drive anywhere in Maine but was prohibited from having drugs, alcohol, firearms or weapons.

The court also required that an outpatient treatment team from Riverview visit Audet twice a week for at least six months after he moved to his own apartment.

Audet sold the Oakland property in April 2004, registry records show, a month after the finding that he was not criminally responsible for that fire. He returned to Riverview for a series of brief hospitalizations in the summer of 2013 and moved back into the community each time. There was no indication in the court’s file that he had been hospitalized at Riverview during 2014.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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