AUGUSTA — Tonia Kigas Porter was freed from state custody Friday for the first time in almost 20 years.

Porter, 49, who starved her 5-year-old daughter to death in 1993 in Bangor, was committed to state custody after being found not criminally responsible for murder.

A judge in Kennebec County Superior Court ordered Porter discharged after the state, her psychiatrist and the State Forensic Service all said they supported it.

Porter recently was treated for cancer.

“She has managed those losses and difficulties with great dignity,” said Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service.

Porter has been living and doing volunteer work in Augusta for years, and getting support from people in the community.

Justice Donald Marden said testimony on Friday convinced him that Porter has worked hard to recover. “There’s no question Ms. Porter bears a heavy burden,” he said.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak Smith said that once Porter recovered from her severe psychosis, she was distressed and remorseful about what she had done.

“I think it’s a good thing when a person recognizes how serious it was and has the remorse, because that’s the beginning of the recovery and can give the public some comfort that the person knows this was a bad thing,” Yustak Smith said.

J. Mitchell Flick, Porter’s attorney, told the judge that Porter is particularly conscientious about taking her medication and “extremely likely to succeed.”

Porter was committed to state custody in 1995.

Yustak Smith said she contacted family members of the victim before Friday’s hearing to discuss Porter’s potential discharge, and learned that one was deceased and the other did not want to attend the hearing.

Porter hugged treatment providers and others from the Riverview Psychiatric Center and the hospital’s Assertive Community Treatment Team. She is expected to continue with community-based treatment.

Betty Adams can be contacted 621-5631 or at:

badams@centralmaine.com

Twitter: @betadams