Sunday, April 20, 2014
AUGUSTA — A man who has been shuttled between Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and Maine State Prison in Warren for the past few years was found competent to stand trial on three assault charges.
Anthony Reed, 38, who has a history of assaulting Riverview staffers and once served two years in prison for attacking the hospital chaplain, faces three misdemeanor assault charges stemming from an April 4, 2012 incident at the hospital.
Justice Michaela Murphy made the ruling during a hearing Thursday in Kennebec County Superior Court at which Reed testified that he believed he was competent.
She told him she recognized the challenges he faces as a result of his mental illness and the challenges faced by his defense attorneys, Pamela Ames and Scott Hess. Reed at one point during his testimony said it was in his best interest to fire Ames, and later said, “I think I fired both of you at different times.”
However, he seemed to change his mind, since both attorneys continued to represent him at the hearing.
Murphy told him, “I also find I believe you are trying to stay competent. I ask you to try very hard to listen to your attorneys’ advice.”
The entire time he was in court, Reed, wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and red tie, was in handcuffs, and a chain ran from those to the shackles on his legs. He could not raise his hand as the judge swore him in as a witness.
While he was seated at the defense table with his two attorneys, two uniformed deputies from the Kennebec Sheriff’s Office stood directly behind him and another was next to him on the other side of a wooden railing.
Reed testified he understood what was happening at the hearing.
“I think there’s a question about how delusional I am and how in touch with reality I am,” he said.
He said his previous medication made him homicidal and delusional and he said he remains in restraints to prevent himself from harming people with his violence.
“I’m very quick-handed because I’ve boxed since I was a young man,” he said. “If I’m in handcuffs and shackles, I’m not a threat.”
Then Reed talked about kicking a TV and cutting his Achilles tendon, being a war veteran, taking a bullet in the neck and saying he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. “I don’t have bipolar or schizoaffective disorder,” he said. “I’m a man. I have a family who loves me and takes care of me.”
He said he would not punch someone in the face — a reference to one of the charges — and that the alleged victim, a woman, was not even working that day.
Reed said his life is better at Riverview than at the prison, adding, “The saner I get, the less I like the restraints, the less I like being kept in a room,” he said. Reed occasionally rubbed his handcuffs and wrists while he was sitting with his attorneys.
When Ames asked him about his willingness to consider an insanity defense he testified, “I don’t feel like waiting around for another hearing. I want to do a trial right now.” Then, when told that was not the purpose of the hearing, he said, “I’ll take a plea bargain. I have not done anything against the law for a number of months now.”
At the close of Thursday’s hearing, Reed pleaded guilty to violating probation in Knox County and was sentenced to six months in jail and given credit for the six months he has been held.
The judge ordered Reed held at Riverview pending an evaluation to determine whether he could enter a plea of not criminally responsible on the assault charges.
Eleven months ago, Murphy had found him to be incompetent to stand trial on the same charges.
Since then, according to Peter Donnelly, a South Portland psychologist who testified Thursday, Reed’s medication has been changed and his ability to communicate and focus has improved.
Donnelly described his first meeting with Reed at the prison in May 2012 where Reed was transferred following the Riverview incident.
Donnelly said Reed refused to agree to an evaluation, and that Reed wore only a blanket because he had removed his clothes and prison staff said he was “frequently catatonic.”
He said Reed had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, a combination of psychotic and depressive disorder simultaneously, polysubstance disorder and with antisocial personality traits.
Reed later was transferred back to Riverview in Augusta, and the medication change brought improvement, although Donnelly said Reed’s mental health was sporadic.
Betty Adams — 621-5631