December 04, 2019
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Why justice hasn’t been swift for a Maine man accused of killing his family

Josh Reynolds | AP
Josh Reynolds | AP
Orion Krause right, stands with his attorney Edward Wayland at Krause's arraignment in Ayer District Court in Ayer, Mass., Monday, Sept. 11, 2017. Krause, of Rockport, Maine, was ordered held without bail at Bridgewater State Hospital pending a competency hearing at his arraignment on murder charges Monday in Ayer.

It’s been two years since a Rockport man was accused of brutally killing his mother, his grandparents and their home health aide in Massachusetts.

Orion Krause, 24, faces four counts of murder for the Sept. 8, 2017, killings and has been in custody since his arrest. He’s been awaiting a mental health evaluation from the state since his trial was postponed in March when he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

That mental health evaluation is just now getting underway, according to Middlesex District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Meghan Kelly.

Krause is accused of using a baseball bat to beat his mother, Elizabeth “Buffy” Krause, 60; her parents, Elizabeth “Esu” Lackey, 85, and Frank Danby “Dan” Lackey III, 89; and their home health aide, Bertha Mae Parker, 68, to death at the Lackeys’ house in Groton, Massachusetts.

Police found the bodies of Krause’s mother and grandparents sitting in chairs in the kitchen. Parker’s body was found in a flower bed, according to police reports.

Krause allegedly told investigators he “freed them.” On the night of the killings, Krause also allegedly called a former professor and said, “I think I have to kill my mom.”

Krause’s attorney, Edward Wayland, said the process has taken much longer than necessary, given that it took six months for the state to find an expert to conduct a mental health evaluation. However, he said it’s not unusual for homicide cases “to take years to go to trial.”

“I do think it is has taken much longer than necessary. But I am not sure [the prosecution is] deliberately dragging it out,” Wayland said in an email.

In October 2017, Krause was found competent to stand trial. But a mental health expert who examined Krause prior to trial on behalf of the defense found that the cause of the homicides was mental illness. Meaning that “Orion was compelled by his mental illness to act as he did and is therefore not criminally responsible,” Wayland told the BDN.

Once Krause pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, the trial was postponed until the prosecution could find an expert and conduct its own evaluation of the case, including Krause himself, and make an independent determination about whether mental illness caused the crime.

If the state’s expert determines that the murders were the result of mental illness, Krause will be found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a mental institution. However, if the state’s expert finds that mental illness was not the cause, the case will go to trial and both the defense’s expert and the state’s expert will testify.

It is not clear how long the state’s evaluation of Krause will take.

If convicted on all four charges, Krause faces a maximum of four life sentences without the possibility of parole.



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