Woman accused of setting grandmother on fire deemed incompetent to stand trial

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 16, 2011, at 4:01 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Ellsworth woman accused of setting her grandmother on fire last spring is not well enough to stand trial, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren decided Tuesday.

Emily A. Cole, 26, was indicted on charges of attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault after she allegedly doused her grandmother with gasoline and set her on fire on May 13, according to Bangor police and court documents.

Warren made his decision based on two mental evaluations done by doctors at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, one from June and one from July, he said Tuesday in making his ruling.

Based on those evaluations, “she is not competent, at least not at this time,” Warren said. The judge added that she could be cleared to stand trial at a future date.

Michael Roberts, deputy district attorney for Penobscot County, said in court at the Penobscot Judicial Center that Cole would continue to be treated at Riverview for the next 60 days and would be re-evaluated over the next year to see if her status changed.

Cole has no criminal record, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

Ernestine Cole, 77, suffered severe burns on her upper body from the attack, police said in May. She was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor but later transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland. She has since been released from the hospital and her husband, David Cole, said Tuesday afternoon that his wife is “progressing quite well.”

According to investigators, Ernestine Cole saw Emily Cole pouring gasoline on pine needles outside at her grandparents’ home at 1601 Broadway. The younger woman allegedly doused her grandmother with gasoline and ignited her after the grandmother told her to stop.

Police said Emily Cole also ripped the telephone off her grandparents’ kitchen wall. She committed the crime because she was upset about a breakup with a female partner, according to court documents.

Seth Harrow of Bangor, Cole’s court-appointed attorney, told Warren that he did not discuss the competency hearing with his client or bring her to Tuesday’s court hearing because “I kept getting reports that she’s not competent.”

Warren’s decision that Cole currently would not be helpful in her own defense “doesn’t mean she’ll be incompetent to stand trial in the future,” Harrow said.

Cole, who was taken for an initial mental health evaluation at The Acadia Hospital in May, was being held on $100,000 cash bail at Penobscot County Jail before she was transferred to Riverview in June.

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/08/16/news/court/woman-accused-of-setting-grandmother-on-fire-deemed-incompetent-to-stand-trial/ printed on August 21, 2014