- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 9, 2017

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - The lawyer for a man who’s served decades in a state mental hospital after being charged in a woman’s death in 1969 asked the state supreme court Tuesday to released him, but a state official said he first needs to cooperate with therapists and make progress in treating his mental illness.

Donald Beauchene, 73, contends he’s being held unconstitutionally at the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, where he returned after serving 15 years for rape in New York and another five years in state prison after a previous escape.

His attorney, Rory McNamara, contends Beauchene hasn’t committed a violent act in 39 years and deserves to be released, the Kennebec Journal (https://bit.ly/2qnAjiK ) reported.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak said Beauchene could be released at some point in the future. “He’s largely the master of his own fate,” Yustak said. “He knows what he has to do.”

Beauchene was charged in the 1969 stabbing death of 30-year-old Bernardine Israelson. A jury at the time ruled he was not criminally responsible under Maine law by reason of mental disease or defect.

Beauchene escaped twice from the hospital that preceded Riverview. He spent 15 years in prison in New York for rape after the second escape. He has maintained his innocence.

In legal briefs, McNamara said his client’s criminal past has been exaggerated, influencing mental health officials.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has weighed in several times in Beauchene’s case over the years. He also has petitioned the federal courts for the opportunity to be released from the hospital.


Information from: Kennebec Journal, https://www.kjonline.com/

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