AUGUSTA, Maine — A former Bangor woman who was found not criminally responsible for the 1993 starving death of her 5-year-old daughter has received initial court approval to reduce her court-ordered supervision to monthly check-ins with mental health practitioners.
Tonia Kigas Porter, 46, was committed indefinitely to the then-Augusta Mental Health Institute in the spring of 1995 after being found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity in the November 1993 death of her daughter, Tavielle Kigas.
The girl was starved to death by her mother in the family’s Bangor apartment over a 30-day period. Porter, who told police at the time of her arrest that her child was evil, was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
Porter, who previously went by the name Tonia Kigas, has been receiving treatment for her mental illness. In June 2003, a Kennebec County Superior Court judge approved privileges that allowed her to move into a supervised apartment and work part time in the community. At the time, Porter was required to check with hospital staff at the beginning and end of each day.
Porter returned to Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday to request that the check-ins be reduced to once a month, a move approved verbally by Justice Michaela Murphy.
According to a draft of the reduced supervision request, “face-to-face case management visits and psychiatric appointments may be decreased to once a month at the discretion of the team and Dr. Mannin,” Brenda Kielty, special assistant to the Attorney General’s Office, said Thursday.
The court documents don’t “say what her privileges are now,” she added.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes handled the hearing but was unavailable for comment on Thursday.
The written reduced supervision petition was given to Murphy and requires only her signature to become final, a clerk at Kennebec County Superior Court said Thursday. It was not known whether Murphy signed the document before court closed for the day.
Those committed, like Porter, to the custody of the Maine Commission on Mental Health must petition the court for any changes to their commitment conditions.
Ann LeBlanc, a psychologist and director of the State Forensic Service, testified at the hearing Tuesday, saying Porter had made remarkable progress over the last 18 years, according to a Kennebec Journal story on the hearing.
LeBlanc said Thursday that “there are currently 74 persons found not criminally responsible in the custody of the commissioner. Twenty-two of them reside in Riverview Psychiatric Center.”
Riverview is a civil and forensic psychiatric treatment facility in Augusta opened in 2004 to replace the 161-year-old AMHI.
The other 52 people found not criminally responsible for their actions, including Porter, live in supervised group residential homes, supervised housing, “and some have their own apartments or homes,” LeBlanc said.