Petrucelly not guilty, but insane in murder

Posted July 17, 2009, at 5:39 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — A Palmyra man who stabbed his older brother to death during a visit to North Haven last summer was found not guilty by reason of insanity Friday.

Enoch B. Petrucelly, 24, was found “not criminally responsible by reason of insanity” by Justice Jeffrey L. Hjelm in Knox County Superior Court.

Petrucelly had been charged with murder after the Aug. 10, 2008, stabbing death of his brother Michael Petrucelly, 24, also of Palmyra. Police said the sleeping Michael Petrucelly was stabbed three times in the chest while the brothers were visiting friends on North Haven.

Enoch Petrucelly used a sword concealed inside a “gentleman’s cane” to kill his brother, according to police reports.

Petrucelly had pleaded not guilty and not criminally responsible for the death of his brother.

In handing down the verdict, Hjelm ordered that Petrucelly be committed to the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services for placement in an appropriate institution for the mentally ill or mentally retarded for care and treatment.

Hjelm ordered that Petrucelly be held in that institution until such time that the court determines that his release or discharge was not likely to cause injury to himself or others due to his mental illness or mental defect.

Petrucelly has been held at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta since shortly after his arrest the day of the homicide.

While at the institution he was subjected to a series of psychological examinations by Dr. Debra Baedar, chief forensic psychologist of the Office of Forensic Services under DHHS. Baedar was the only witness to testify at Friday’s hearing, according to Hjelm’s notations in the court’s file.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea represented the state during the hearing but declined to comment on the case, referring all inquiries to Kate Simmons, spokeswoman for Attorney General Janet Mills. Simmons could not be reached for comment.

Portland-based defense attorney Randall J. Bates, of Strike, Goodwin and O’Brien also could not be reached for comment.

Affidavits filed with the case revealed that the Petrucelly brothers had traveled to North Haven by ferry on Aug. 9, 2008, to visit friends and attend “Lungfest,” a festival on the island.

Enoch Petrucelly told detectives he had planned to meet a woman on the island with whom he claimed he was romantically involved. The woman was the mother of one of the friends with whom the brothers were staying. She told police that Petrucelly imagined the relationship.

Petrucelly told police that he warned his brother Michael on the trip over that he would kill him if he touched the woman. The brothers went to their friends’ home on Crabtree Lane and spent the night in separate beds in a downstairs room.

Petrucelly told police that he awoke early in the morning, grabbed the cane and stabbed his sleeping brother three times in the chest. Michael Petrucelly made groaning sounds, then died, according to the affidavit. When one of the brothers’ friends came downstairs a short time later, Petrucelly informed her he had killed his brother.

Police were alerted to the death when a 911 call was placed to the Knox County Communications Center from the residence at 4:42 a.m. to report an unresponsive male. State police detective Adam Kelly said Petrucelly admitted from the start that he had killed his brother.

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