BANGOR, Maine — A Superior Court judge has deemed a Bangor man not criminally responsible by reason of insanity on charges stemming from a vicious attack on his pregnant girlfriend that left her blinded.
Joshua Cole, 35, of Bangor admits he attacked the 43-year-old woman, who now lives in Florida with her mother and her 19-month-old daughter, and the neighbor who tried to intervene on Aug. 18, 2014, in the hall of an apartment house they shared.
Cole was charged with elevated aggravated assault on a pregnant person, a Class A crime, and aggravated assault, a Class B crime, for also attempting to strangle the female neighbor, who along with her boyfriend tried to stop the assault.
Cole, who has a history of mental illness and hospitalizations in Maine and other states, “had a break from reality that day,” his defense attorney, Hunter Tzovarras told Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee during a jury-waived trial in March at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Mallonee’s decision was released Tuesday.
Cole “was in a psychotic and delusional state when he committed the acts of which he is accused,” the judge wrote. “The Court therefore finds Defendant Joshua Cole is not criminally responsible by reason of insanity. Defendant is hereby committed to the custody of the Commission of Health and Human Service to be placed in an appropriate institution for the care and treatment of person with mental illness.”
Cole most recently has been held in the mental health section of the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy prosecuted the case, and two psychologists testified for the defense that Cole suffered from a major psychiatric disorder most of his life and had abused drugs since his teenage years. Both said Cole was delusional when he attacked his former girlfriend and his neighbor.
The injured woman’s son, Donny Smith, said in March that “she’s doing well” and was adjusting well to living in Florida after giving birth to a beautiful girl a few months after being attacked. The Bangor Daily News is not naming her because she is the victim of domestic violence.
Cole told police and the psychologists that he attacked his former girlfriend, “due to her smelling like alcohol and someone else.” He also said North Koreans were watching him, that he watched a movie the night of the assault and then could speak Italian and that he thought he was Sicilian and worried about being deported.
The two met and became friends at local homeless shelters and started living together about a month before the attack, according to testimony and previous reports.
Cole did not take the stand in his own defense.
The ruling means Cole will be confined to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta until it is determined he no longer is a danger to others.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.