AUGUSTA, Maine — A former Bangor woman who was found not criminally responsible for the 1993 starvation death of her 5-year-old daughter was released Friday from state custody.
Tonia Kigas Porter, 49, 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 went before Justice Donald Marden in Kennebec County Superior Court on Friday and her release was granted, according to Tim Feeley, spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
Porter, who previously went by the name Tonia Kigas, was in the custody of the Maine Commission on Mental Health and has been receiving treatment for her mental illness while slowly permitted more freedoms.
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 had her court-ordered supervision reduced to monthly check-ins in 2011, and 10 months afterward petitioned the court for release from state custody.
Ann LeBlanc, a psychologist and director of the State Forensic Service, has informed the court repeatedly 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.
Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak Smith represented the state and handled a couple other state custody cases on Friday, according to Feeley.
The state asked several questions in court to ensure the safety of the public before the decision was made, he said.
“[Smith] felt Tonia Kigas Porter met her burden of clear and convincing evidence that she is not a danger to herself and others,” Feeley said.