Donald Beauchene, who was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity in 1969, will remain at the at Riverview Psychiatric Center rather than be discharged or moved to supervised community housing as he wanted.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, also known as the Law Court, in a unanimous opinion published Tuesday, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that said that “if discharged, released, or placed in a modified treatment plan, Beauchene would pose a risk of harm or danger to himself or to others.”

Beauchene, who turns 74 on Saturday, was acquitted of murder by reason of insanity in the 1969 killing of Bernardine Israelson in Portland, and has been in state custody either in a forensic unit or at a prison almost every day since then.

In February 2016, Beauchene asked to be discharged from the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services; and if denied that, to be placed at a residence in Florida; or failing that, Maine.

His petition was rejected in October 2016 following a hearing before Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen.

Through attorney Rory McNamara, Beauchene asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to overturn Mullen’s decision keeping him inside the state facility. Oral arguments in the case were heard in May in Augusta.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Thomas Humphrey wrote the opinion for the six-judge panel.

“Beauchene does not argue that his symptoms, present since at least 1969, have subsided, but rather that those symptoms do not, as a matter of law, meet the definition of a ‘mental disease or defect’ that can justify his continued commitment. We disagree.”

Humphrey also noted, “The fact remains that Beauchene convinced a jury in 1970 that he suffered from a mental disease or defect, and because, as the trial court found, his mental condition has not changed and he continues to present a risk of injury, Beauchene has not met his burden for release or discharge pursuant to (Maine state law).”

The opinion also reiterated Mullen’s position “that if Beauchene engages in treatment and demonstrates progress, he may be entitled to relief through another petition in the future” and concluded that Beauchene’s “continued confinement” does not violate due process.

Beauchene escaped twice from Riverview’s predecessor, the Augusta Mental Health Institute, spent 15 years in prison in New York for rape and sodomy after his second escape, and then five years in a Maine prison for the hospital escape. He’s maintained he’s innocent of the New York charges.

Beauchene has lost in previous appeals to the state’s highest court as well.

He also had sought relief in federal court, and saying he was being “warehoused” at a state psychiatric hospital even though he has no mental disease or defect, does not take psychotropic medication and is not receiving treatment.

That petition was withdrawn in February 2016.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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