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BANGOR, Maine — Notes from a frantic phone call placed by Sandra Goodrich in which she said she feared that her son, Perley Goodrich Jr., would kill her never made it to doctors at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor who might have used the information to keep him hospitalized.
Sandra Goodrich brought Goodrich Jr. to Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield on Oct. 25, 2009, at his request because, according to numerous witnesses in his trial, he felt like he was going out of his mind. That was a day before he returned home and beat her with a pistol before shooting his father, 76-year-old Perley Goodrich Sr., to death. Goodrich Jr. is facing murder and aggravated assault charges in a trial that resumed Monday after three days of testimony last week.
After dropping her son off at the Pittsfield hospital, Sandra Goodrich made a call to one of the hospital’s nurses, Christin Rodriguez, who testified last week.
“She was afraid that he would kill her,” said Rodriguez, referring to notes she made that day. Goodrich Jr. was subsequently taken to Dorothea Dix on a voluntary basis.
Dr. Thomas Moskalewicz, an emergency room physician at Sebasticook Valley Hospital, testified last week that he never saw Rodriguez’ notes and therefore didn’t include them with paperwork that was sent to the Bangor facility with Goodrich Jr.
Dr. Michelle Gardner, a psychiatrist at Dorthea Dix, testified that she never received the notes and that she saw them for the first time Monday while on the witness stand in Goodrich Jr.’s trial.
“That would have factored into the decision-making process,” said Gardner, though she added that the more important information for that decision would have come from a full mental health examination of Goodrich, which never happened. Gardner testified that when her interview with him reached a certain point, he stopped it.
“He cut me off and said, ‘You’re going to tell me I don’t need Klonopin,’” said Gardner. “I hadn’t said anything about Klonopin.”
Goodrich had taken the anti-anxiety drug for about 10 years before being cut off from his prescription after another doctor found marijuana in his system in 2008. That was a violation of a contract signed by Goodrich Jr. not to take any illegal drugs while on Klonopin, which is used recreationally by some addicts.
Apparently convinced that Gardner wasn’t prepared to renew his Klonopin prescription, Goodrich began quacking at her and punched a Plexiglas window on the way out of her office.
“He called me a quack,” said Gardner. “He basically ended the discussion and said I should get going on the discharge process.”
Gardner said she had no legal reason to force Goodrich to stay at the hospital, so she sent him home in a taxi.
“I discharged him against medical advice,” she said.
Later that night is when Goodrich Jr. killed his father and beat his mother, facts that neither the prosecution nor the defense in the trial disputes. At issue is what crime he might be convicted of and whether he should be held criminally responsible. Defense attorney Jeffrey Benson is arguing that Goodrich is guilty of manslaughter at most — which carries a much lighter sentence than murder — and possibly not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. That finding would put Goodrich in a state-run mental hospital instead of a prison.
Silverstein called several witnesses Monday who testified about Goodrich’s history of mental illness and violent outbursts dating back to at least 1996. Four different Newport police officers testified about four separate times they responded to calls involving Goodrich. Silverstein framed those incidents as proof that his client has been mentally ill for years.
“He seemed nervous and glassy-eyed,” said Larry Maritheau, a former Newport officer who responded to a fight between Goodrich and his brother, Kenneth, in 2003. “I just felt some sort of evaluation needed to be done.”
But Silverstein’s star witness was Bangor-based psychiatrist John Lorenz, who testified for more than three hours Monday. Lorenz, who was hired by Silverstein, said there are many reasons to believe that Goodrich wasn’t acting rationally or sanely when he beat his mother and shot his father. Using a four-step process of decision-making, Lorenz said it’s his belief that Goodrich skipped the middle two steps — collecting information and considering various responses — and went instantaneously from thought to action when he shot his father.
“There are times at which Mr. Goodrich becomes at least briefly psychotic,” said Lorenz. “My belief is that Mr. Goodrich did not engage in sound reasoning or thinking with regard to his father.”
In addition to Goodrich’s various mental illnesses that have been diagnosed over the years — post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from being sexually abused as a child, schizo-affective disorder and bipolar II disorder, among others — Lorenz said there were other factors at play at the time of the shooting. Those factors included the fact Goodrich had stopped taking his psychiatric medication, a severe lack of sleep and intense tension between him and his parents that had been building for years.
“It must have been a nightmare to begin with, not being able to sleep and not being able to have peace of mind,” said Lorenz. “He was very unstable. His mother said it. He said it. His providers have said it.”
Lorenz said Goodrich told him he thought his father was reaching for a gun when he shot him, which is the first time that theory has been floated during the trial.
Lorenz’s testimony was at odds with the opinion of Dr. Debra Baeder, a psychiatrist for the State Forensic Service, who testified Thursday that Goodrich made too many deliberate decisions — ranging from raising, cocking and firing a pistol at his father to going into hiding for three days after the shooting — to have been insane at the time of the crime.
Lorenz may have been Silverstein’s final witness, though Silverstein declined to say that definitively to reporters after Monday’s proceedings. Asked whether he would put Goodrich on the stand, Silverstein said Goodrich doesn’t want to.
“It’s his decision,” said Silverstein, who would not say whether he favored putting his client on the stand.
Superior Court Justice William Anderson, who is presiding over the trial, told jurors that he expected closing arguments to be finished by noontime Tuesday. If Goodrich Jr. is found guilty, a second phase of the trial would explore whether he was insane at the time of the alleged crimes.