BANGOR, Maine — Gaunt, dirty and vomiting into a garbage can after three days on the run, Perley Goodrich Jr. tried to explain himself.
“I have broken the law.”
“I ain’t sure what happened.”
“I guess I started hitting her.”
“The only help for me is a bullet. I’ve been trying to kill myself all my life, but I ain’t got the guts.”
Those were some of the statements made by Goodrich to detectives just hours after he was recognized by a waitress and then arrested by Newport police. A videotape of the hourlong interview was played Wednesday for the jury that will ultimately decide whether Goodrich killed his father and severely beat his mother in October 2009.
Wearing the green sweatshirt and blue jeans that forensic investigators had testified earlier Wednesday bore his mother’s blood, Goodrich said he remembered hitting her, but only with his hands. As for what happened to his father, Perley Goodrich Sr., the defendant said he doesn’t remember.
“Do you know what you did to your dad?” asked Maine State Police Detective Brian Strout in the videotape. Goodrich Jr. vomited into a garbage can, barking out “nothing!” in the same motion.
“I don’t know what happened with me and my father,” he said during another part of the interrogation. “You say he’s dead, but I don’t believe I did it. I couldn’t have done that. It’s against everything I believe in.”
Over and over again, Goodrich told Strout and another detective he had an “anger blackout” and remembers everything about the night of Oct. 26, 2009, except committing the crimes he’s accused of. He said his rage started to build the moment he walked into his and his parents’ house after he signed himself out of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor and took a taxi home.
“I walked through the door and my mother gave me the look of hate and no care at all,” said Goodrich. “She hates me.”
He said he went straight to his room and lay on his bed, hugging his dog.
“I started having awful thoughts,” he said, but wouldn’t elaborate when pressed by Strout. Some time later that night — just after 11 p.m. — Goodrich said a fight broke out between him and his mother. According to Sandra Goodrich, Perley started it by trying to bind her with duct tape and beating her on the head, face and arms with a Ruger revolver — a version of events that seem to be supported by a roll of duct tape and gun recovered by investigators. Experts from the State Police Crime Lab said Sandra Goodrich’s blood was found on both items, as well as the defendant’s clothing. But Goodrich Jr. said it was the other way around.
“She started slapping at me and I started defending myself,” he said. “I hit her with my hands.”
He said he doesn’t remember using the gun to hit her or shoot his father, but admitted to taking the keys to his mother’s minivan and fleeing to nearby woods — with the single-action, .22-caliber revolver in his possession. From there he described how he hid in a camp for two days before walking into Newport and hiding in what is known as the Old Hood Factory. That’s where detectives found the alleged murder weapon — though Goodrich claimed he hid it in the woods. Cold and hungry, he eventually went to the nearby Irving Big Stop for coffee, where waitress Amanda Fitts of Corinna recognized him from a picture she saw in a newspaper.
“Something just struck me,” Fitts testified earlier Wednesday. “He just looked familiar.”
Maine State Police Trooper Brian Bean, who transported Goodrich from Newport to a state police facility in Bangor, said the murder defendant made unsolicited statements.
“He asked if he was going to get the death penalty,” said Bean. “He asked if I had found the note he had left.”
That note has been referred to numerous times during Goodrich’s trial, but its contents have not yet been revealed.
Details about the movements of Goodrich after the slaying emerged during testimony earlier in the day.
Detective Jay Pelletier of the Maine State Police Evidence Response Team, who led the collection of evidence in the case against Goodrich, described three locations where he found evidence connected to the killing of Perley Goodrich Sr.
One location was a camp on a rural road in Corinna whose owners reported it had been broken into in the days after the slaying. Pelletier said he found knives, smoking materials and bedding that according to the owners were out of place.
Pelletier also testified that he investigated a gravel pit where investigators found a van allegedly used by Goodrich Jr. to flee the crime scene at 146 Rutland Road in Newport. Among other items, Pelletier said he found a 12-gauge shotgun partially buried in some leaves at the edge of the gravel pit.
The third location described by Pelletier was the Old Hood Factory near downtown Newport. Beneath the cushion of an easy chair in the former factory, Pelletier said he found three knives and a holstered .22-caliber revolver.
Forensic technicians from the state crime lab, including a DNA expert, said they found Sandra Goodrich’s blood on the revolver and that Perley Goodrich Sr. was shot fatally in the back from a distance of no more than six feet. Forensic scientist Kim Stevens said she could not conclusively link the bullet that killed Goodrich Sr. to the Ruger, but that it was “consistent” with that kind of gun.
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson told the Bangor Daily News that he expects to finish the prosecution portion of the trial Thursday morning with his last witness, a state psychologist. Defense Attorney Jeffrey Silverstein said he’ll follow that with his opening arguments. Though Silverstein does not contest the events of Oct. 26, 2009, he does object to the charges against his client, which are intentional or knowing murder, depraved indifference murder, and aggravated assault.
“I’m looking for a conviction on a lesser charge, like manslaughter,” Silverstein told the BDN. “Hopefully the jury will see that in his mental state, he is not responsible for the highest degree of murder.”
If Goodrich Jr. is convicted, the trial will enter a new phase to determine whether he will go to prison or to a state mental hospital.