MACHIAS, Maine — A mentally ill Eastport man is not criminally responsible for a pair of assaults, one that resulted in the death of one man and another that resulted in significant injuries for a jail corrections officer, a judge ruled Friday.
Justice Harold Stewart II on Friday accepted a joint recommendation from prosecutors and a defense attorney and determined that Hazen McDugald is not criminally responsible for the attacks, which occurred in late 2015 and early 2016. McDugald is expected to be committed indefinitely to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, the judge said.
McDugald, 41, was charged with manslaughter in the September 2015 death of Maurice “Allen” Harris, who died while being assaulted by McDugald at his Clark Street home. A subsequent autopsy on Harris, who was 75 years old, indicated he may have died from a heart attack during the assault.
McDugald also faced charges stemming from an attack on a corrections officer at the Washington County Jail the following winter. In that attack, he unhooked a pull-down bar from an exercise machine and, after asking the officer to examine the machine, clubbed the officer in the head with the bar, causing him long-term neurological problems.
Washington County Sheriff Barry Curtis later credited a corrections officer trainee, who was in the exercise room at the time, with subduing McDugald and preventing further injury to the jail guard.
For that attack, McDugald later was indicted on charges of aggravated attempted murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and assault on an officer.
On Friday, with McDugald’s parents in the courtroom, a forensic psychologist told the judge he had interviewed McDugald twice following the attacks and had determined that McDugald was suffering from “acute symptoms of schizophrenia” at the times of the assaults.
Dr. Andrew Wisch said McDugald has been taking psychiatric medication ever since he was transferred to state custody following the attack on the corrections officer. He said that McDugald had been taking anti-depressant medication for a while prior to the assaults and may have first started suffering from delusions and hallucinations four years ago.
John Alsop, assistant attorney general, said Friday after the hearing that the joint agreement for finding McDugald not criminally responsible was an appropriate resolution for the criminal cases, given McDugald’s schizophrenia diagnosis.
“It is serious, but [as a practical matter] you can’t go forward [toward trial] with a diagnosis like that,” Alsop said.
McDugald’s defense attorney, Jeffrey Davidson, said after the hearing that his client’s situation was “a pretty sad case.” He said McDugald actually liked the jail guard he attacked and, since then, has been apologetic for it.
“It’s kind of rare when both sides [of a criminal court case] agree,” Davidson said.