A family is outraged, and fearful, now that man accused of brutally murdering and sexually assaulting his mother-in-law will be allowed back in the community.
A judge has granted Paul Orchard six hours of supervised release each day from the Riverview Psychiatric Hospital, after eight months of treatment for bi-polar disorder.
He was found not criminally responsible for the 2014 murder and sexual assault of Paula Nuttal, due to his mental illness. Police say Orchard committed the crime in front of his 6-year-old daughter. When officers arrived, he was covered in polyurethane and possibly high from the fumes. He claims to have no memory of the murder.
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"He was hearing voices, and he believed he was a god," said Zachary Smith, a physician’s assistant that treated Orchard at Riverview. "He was perceiving things that were not reality."
In a hearing in Augusta, doctors testified that Orchard has shown remorse and is receiving treatment. They felt he could be safely introduced back into the community, if he remains under supervision.
"I have a high level of confidence that he could be monitored," said Smith.
But his family pleaded with the judge to keep him hospitalized.
"He’s going to relapse, go off his meds, and hurt another family," said Janice Morrissey, the victim’s sister. "It’s a bit fast, and a slap in the face."
Morrissey said Orchard has a long history of mental illness, hospitalizations, and relapses. Other family members called him manipulative.
"They put him in the hospital and eight months later, he feels better and can move on with his life," said Morrissey. "How can that be, when they just said he cannot be held accountable for my sister’s murder?"