AUGUSTA, Maine — A former Bangor woman who was found not criminally responsible for the 1993 starving death of her 5-year-old daughter had her court-ordered supervision reduced to monthly check-ins 10 months ago, and now is petitioning the court for release from state custody.
Tonia Kigas Porter, 46, was committed indefinitely to what was then the 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 was before Justice Michaela Murphy in Kennebec County Superior Court on Friday making a plea for release from state custody, according to a Kennebec Journal story on the hearing.
Ann LeBlanc, a psychologist and director of the State Forensic Service, told Murphy that Porter is painfully aware of what she did to her daughter and is committed to taking her medication so nothing like that happens again, the Augusta newspaper reported.
Porter has friends and for nearly a decade has volunteered at the Bread of Life Soup Kitchen, a post she held until recently.
LeBlanc said while she could not guarantee that Porter would keep taking her medication or continue seeing a psychologist, she believes Porter would not pose an increased risk to society if she were released from state custody, the Kennebec Journal reported.
“Ms. Porter has demonstrated almost classic, ideal progression,” LeBlanc said. “She’s been absolutely reliable about taking her medication. She’s very clear about her role in the loss of her daughter. It’s something that is very painful, that she is very aware of and would not want to repeat. Ms. Porter has demonstrated she will take her medications.”
When asked how important she thought it is for her to take her medication, Porter answered from the witness stand that is was “very important.”
Murphy is expected to issue a written decision about whether Porter should be discharged from state custody.
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.
Murphy approved reducing Porter’s twice daily visits to monthly check-ins last July.
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.