BANGOR, Maine — The murder suspect who escaped from a psychiatric hospital about three weeks after he allegedly killed a local man pleaded not guilty Monday to slaying Melvin F. Abreu, 28, of Bangor last June at a Bangor apartment.
William L. Hall, 30, of Bangor also pleaded not guilty to escaping June 28 from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, where he had been taken by police for an evaluation.
Hall was indicted in July by the Penobscot County grand jury for intentional or knowing murder or depraved indifference murder and escape.
Bangor police said dispatchers received a hang-up 911 call at 5:09 a.m.
June 9 reporting someone had been injured. When emergency personnel arrived, they found Abreu dead in the driveway.
Hall later told police that he strangled Abreu and threw him out of his second-story window, according to court documents.
His leaving the psychiatric hospital without permission three weeks later prompted an intense manhunt that involved personnel from the Maine State Police, the Bangor Police Department and the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department.
Hall was captured in Brewer the next morning. He reportedly swam across the Penobscot River and was spotted by a fisherman and others.
Superior Court Justice Ann Murray ordered Monday that Hall continue to be held without bail. He may request a bail hearing at a later date, she said.
Until his recent return to the jail in Bangor, Hall was at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta for a psychiatric evaluation. The outcome of that evaluation was not discussed in court Monday, but if the judge had concerns about Hall’s competence, she would not have allowed him to enter his pleas.
When she asked if he understood each charge before he said, “Not guilty,” Hall told her that he did understand the crime with which he had been charged.
He is being held in the maximum security section of the Penobscot County Jail.
Murray tentatively set Hall’s trial for June but did not set a date.
The law allows Hall to enter not guilty by reason of insanity pleas at a later date.
Defense attorneys Marvin Glazier and Hunter Tzovarras, both of Bangor, and Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, all declined to comment after Monday’s brief hearing.
If convicted of murder, Hall faces a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life. On the escape charge, he faces up to five years in prison.