Judge OKs more freedom for mentally ill killer

Posted Jan. 07, 2009, at 1:42 p.m.
Last modified Feb. 13, 2011, at 10:43 a.m.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A mentally ill man who stomped an 88-year-old man to death during a random attack in a supermarket parking lot in Portland eight years ago has won permission to move into a group home on the campus of the former Augusta Mental Health Institute.

A judge Tuesday approved Derek Soucy’s petition for greater freedom despite objections from the family of longtime educator John McCann, the victim of the Jan. 12, 2001, attack.

Soucy, 32, was found not criminally responsible for McCann’s death and has been living at Riverview Psychiatric Center. Superior Court Justice John Jabar was told that Soucy was ready to take the next step by moving to the Riverview Group Living Facility.

“Derek has been going home with supervision by family and participating in the community without any problems, except a few early on,” said Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service. “Now, he’s much more forthcoming about where he’s going and what he’s doing.”

Objections to granting privileges to Soucy were expressed by McCann’s son-in-law, Robert Steele, who asked the judge to consider justice and fairness.

The judge said he has to follow procedures when considering the institution’s plan to modify conditions for Soucy, including minimizing risk to the community.

Two other killers who were found not criminally responsible because of mental illness also won incremental change in the amount of time they are allowed out of the hospital.

William Bruce, 27, will be permitted to leave the grounds for educational opportunities while under supervision. Bruce killed his mother with a hatchet in her home in Caratunk two months after his release from Riverview in 2006.

Derek Finn-Wilhelmsen, 28, will be allowed unsupervised time off grounds for employment or education for up to four hours at a time, twice a week. Finn-Wilhelmsen was judged insane for the 2002 killing of a cab driver who drove him to Pittsfield.

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