AUGUSTA — A man who was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity in the shooting death of a cab driver two decades ago has won the court’s permission to have overnight visits with his current girlfriend.

Derek Wilhelmsen was found not criminally responsible for the 2002 shooting death of Portland cab driver Nunzi Mancini and placed into the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

Wilhelmsen, according to newspaper accounts from his 2003 murder trial, had suffered from schizophrenia since childhood. In 2002 his girlfriend at the time sought to break-off their relationship and Wilhelmsen, then of Portland, took a taxi cab driven by Mancini to Pittsfield, where he intended to kill his then-girlfriend. However, when they got to Pittsfield, Mancini apparently made a derogatory comment about Wilhelmsen’s girlfriend and Wilhelmsen shot him seven times with a .22 caliber pistol, killing him.

Derek Finn-Wilhelmsen speaks with one of his attorneys on June 18, 2003, inside Somerset Superior Court in Skowhegan. Wilhelmsen was found not criminally responsible in the shooting death of of Nunzi Mancini. Morning Sentinel file

Over the years Wilhelmsen, now 41, has petitioned the court to secure privileges, including supervised and unsupervised time in the community. His previous conditions, before Friday’s hearing on his latest petition, already allowed him up to four hours a day of unsupervised time in the community, for up to a total of eight hours a day, to drive up to 25 miles and work up to 24 hours a week. He lives in an apartment in a supervised building in the Augusta area and works at Sam’s Club.

Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings on Friday approved Wilhelmsen’s latest petition, increasing his allowed unsupervised time in the community up to five hours at a time and 10 hours in a day; and the time he can work, pursue his education, or volunteer, up to 40 hours a week.

But his request to have overnight visits with his girlfriend, who lives about four hours away in the Aroostook County town of Easton, drew concern due to Wilhelmsen’s previous act of violence being related to his relationship with his then-girlfriend. His initial request was to be able to visit her in Easton, but was altered, after officials expressed concern about him traveling so far away, so now the visits would take place at his apartment. State officials did not contest that deal and Billings approved it.


Dr. Melissa Jankowski, of the State Forensic Service, an agency tasked with independently analyzing the risk posed by patients found not criminally responsible, noted that a romantic relationship was a key factor in Wilhelmsen’s killing of Mancini. However, she agreed with his treatment providers that allowing him to eventually have overnight visits with his girlfriend, by request to his treatment providers, can be done safely.

Jankowski noted he is good about taking his medications and has been psychiatrically stable, and had no symptoms of his mental illness since 2017. She and Riverview officials both said the new privileges would be extended to Wilhelmsen incrementally, to make sure he remained well before extending them further, up to the maximum limits approved by the court.

Dr. Daniel Filene, a Riverview Psychiatric Center psychiatrist, said Wilhelmsen can safely have more time in the community, more time to work, and, eventually, occasional overnight visits with his girlfriend at his supervised apartment. He said he has dealt well with potentially stressful situations at work, wants to get training to advance in employment and takes his medication.

Riverview officials said Wilhelmsen is now honest and transparent with this treatment team, which was previously a problem. They said while he was living in an unsupervised apartment he, without telling his treatment providers, married a woman and moved her into his apartment. He also, in 2018, took a taxi ride to Portland. None of that was allowed under his court-approved treatment plan, so he was returned to care at Riverview.

No members of Mancini’s family, or anyone else, spoke against Wilhelmsen’s request for increased privileges in court Friday. Wilhelmsen did not address the court.

Billings said court testimony showed the plan to extend more privileges to Wilhelmsen can be done safely with no likelihood of danger to him or anyone else, and encouraged Wilhelmsen to look at the results of the hearing as a positive development.

“You should look at this in a positive way, it is a step forward,” Billings said. “I know visits with your girlfriend are important to you. It’s up to the (Riverview Outpatient Services Team) how to implement that, but this would allow that. You’ve shown yourself to be responsible. None of that good work you’ve done is being ignored.”

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