Donald Beauchene, found not guilty of the 1969 murder of a Portland woman by reason of insanity, will remain at the Riverview Psychiatric Center rather than be discharged or moved to supervised community housing as he wanted.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court, in a unanimous opinion published Tuesday, affirmed a lower court’s ruling that said “if discharged, released, or placed in a modified treatment plan, Beauchene would pose a risk of harm or danger to himself or to others.”

Beauchene, who turns 74 on Saturday, killed Bernardine Israelson in Portland in 1969 and has been in state custody in a forensic unit or a prison almost every day since then.

In February 2016, he asked to be discharged from Riverview or, if denied that, placed at a residence in Florida or Maine. His petition was rejected in October, after a hearing before Superior Court Justice Robert Mullen.

Through attorney Rory McNamara, Beauchene asked the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to overturn Mullen’s decision. Oral arguments in the case were heard in May in Augusta.

Associate Justice Thomas Humphrey wrote in the opinion for the six-judge panel, “Beauchene does not argue that his symptoms, present since at least 1969, have subsided, but rather that those symptoms do not, as a matter of law, meet the definition of a ‘mental disease or defect’ that can justify his continued commitment. We disagree.”

Humphrey also noted, “The fact remains that Beauchene convinced a jury in 1970 that he suffered from a mental disease or defect, and because, as the trial court found, his mental condition has not changed and he continues to present a risk of injury, Beauchene has not met his burden for release or discharge pursuant to (Maine state law).”

The opinion also reiterated Mullen’s position “that if Beauchene engages in treatment and demonstrates progress, he may be entitled to relief through another petition in the future” and concluded that Beauchene’s “continued confinement” does not violate due process.

Beauchene escaped twice from Riverview’s predecessor, the Augusta Mental Health Institute, spent 15 years in prison in New York for rape and sodomy after his second escape, and then five years in a Maine prison for the hospital escape. He has maintained he is innocent of the New York charges.

Beauchene has lost in previous appeals to the state’s highest court.

He also sought relief in federal court, saying he was being “warehoused” at a state psychiatric hospital even though he has no mental disease or defect, does not take psychotropic medication and is not receiving treatment.

That petition was withdrawn in February 2016.

Betty Adams can be contacted at 621-5631 or at:

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Twitter: @betadams