AUGUSTA — An Eastport man found not criminally responsible last June for manslaughter won a judge’s approval Friday to be out of Riverview Psychiatric Center and in the community for up to six hours, as long as he has one-to-one supervision by a Riverview worker.

Hazen McDugald, 41, sat quietly with his attorney as both his treating psychiatrist and a psychologist with the State Forensic Service agreed that being off hospital grounds would be therapeutic for him.

At the conclusion of the hearing Friday in the Capital Judicial Center, Justice Joyce Wheeler said she concluded that granting the petition for modified release for McDugald “can be undertaken without risk to community.”

She also addressed McDugald directly, warning him that the privilege can be revoked if anything goes wrong and that the court, the prosecutor’s office and others are notified within 48 hours if any violations occur.

Wheeler said McDugald seemed to be particularly attentive to what was happening during the hearing.

“I’m assuming you get it,” she said.

“Yep,” McDugald said from his seat.

He did not testify. Generally those seeking changes do not testify at hearings on petitions for changes in the conditions under which they are held. This is the first time he has petitioned the court for such changes. Those found not criminally responsible for offenses are permitted to file petitions for changes at six-month intervals.

McDugald was found not criminally responsible for both manslaughter in the September 2015 death of Maurice Harris, 75, in Eastport and for aggravated assault in a February 2016 attack on a corrections officer at the Washington County jail.

He was committed to the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services and placed at Riverview for treatment.

Dr. Mary Tibbetts, a staff psychiatrist at Riverview, testified Friday that McDugald was one of the 12 patients she manages and that she encounters him almost daily as well as meeting with him weekly.

In response to questions by McDugald’s attorney, Harold Hainke, Tibbetts said McDugald’s current diagnosis is “a major depressive disorder with psychotic features” and possible schizoaffective disorder.

“It’s a very interesting and tragic case,” Tibbetts said, noting that McDugald had a good upbringing and worked all his life. She said problems developed after a 1,200-pound block was dropped on him accidentally by the owner of a fishing boat he was working on, and that over the next 10 years he abused substances, largely opiates.

She said he had spent two weeks in a cold-turkey detoxification program in 2015, and then five months later attacked his father because he feared his father was plotting against him.

McDugald was found guilty in that incident and spent 55 days in jail but did not receive mental health treatment, she said.

Tibbetts said she had adjusted McDugald’s medication regimen recently because she felt his depression was “undertreated” and that she has seen improvement. She also said she has not seen any psychotic symptoms.

Tibbetts told the judge, “We would incrementalize his privileges. We would start low and go slow.”

Nadir Behrem, a psychologist with the State Forensic Service, which evaluates patients for the court, testified that McDugal had the “delusional belief that he had to kill victims under orders of the intelligence community or be killed himself.”

Behrem said that with the supervision recommended, “being able to be in community is a good step” for McDugald and would “put him on path to becoming more independent in the future.”

Wheeler said, “I think it sounds like he’s made a lot of progress” and complimented Tibbetts for her treatment of McDugald and for making the medication adjustments to support his going out in the community with eyes-on supervision.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak questioned the witnesses on behalf of the state and told Wheeler that the testimony provides additional basis for the court’s decision.

Wheeler also had an institutional report prepared by McDugald’s treatment team and the Behrem’s report. Both documents remain under seal.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams

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