Bangor man charged with murder, escape from psychiatric hospital found not competent to stand trial

By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted May 24, 2013, at 11:50 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — A local man has been found not competent to stand trial for murder in connection with the death of a man who was thrown off the balcony of a Fourth Street apartment in Bangor in June 2011, according to his attorney.

William L. Hall, 31, of Bangor, who is also charged with escaping from a psychiatric hospital, has been committed by Superior Court Justice Ann Murray to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta until he can be restored to competency, Bangor attorney Stephen Smith of Bangor said Friday.

Murray wrote in her order that two experts agreed that Hall does not currently have the skills to understand the nature of the charges filed against him or the ability to assist in his own defense. Hall’s competency is to be reassessed 30 days after his arrival at Riverview.

Hall’s trial, scheduled to begin Aug. 26, could be delayed if he is not restored to competency by Aug. 2, when a competency hearing is scheduled to be held before Murray, Smith said.

The law allows Hall to enter not guilty by reason of insanity pleas at a later date. He has a history of mental illness, according to court documents.

Efforts to reach Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, who is prosecuting the case, were unsuccessful Friday. It is the practice of the Maine Attorney General’s Office not to comment on a case until they have been concluded.

The defendant, who has been held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail while awaiting trial since his recapture following the escape, pleaded not guilty in October 2011 to intentional or knowing murder or depraved indifference murder in connection with the slaying Melvin F. Abreu, 28, of Bangor on June 9, 2011, in Hall’s apartment at 94-96 Fourth St. He also pleaded not guilty to escaping June 28, 2011, from Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, where he had been taken by police for an evaluation.

According to police reports and court documents connected with the case, Hall killed Abreu after an altercation. Bangor police have said that dispatchers received a hang-up 911 call at 5:09 a.m. on June 9 reporting that 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.

Hall’s 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.

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.

If doctors at Riverview are unable to restore Hall to competency to stand trial, he could be committed to the Augusta hospital indefinitely until he is judged to no longer be a risk to the community.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/24/news/court/bangor-man-charged-with-murder-escape-from-psychiatric-hospital-found-not-competent-to-stand-trial/ printed on April 24, 2014