AUGUSTA — The Winthrop teenager who is accused of stabbing his parents to death last year had gender identity issues and “did not believe his parents would be supportive,” a forensic psychologist testified Wednesday at a hearing to determine whether Andrew T. Balcer should go to trial as an adult.

Balcer told police a few hours after the slayings last October that he had stabbed his mother as she hugged him, according to an interview with police played during a hearing at the Capital Judicial Center on Wednesday, attended by a half-dozen of Balcer’s relatives.

The court also heard audio of a 911 call in which Balcer told a dispatcher that he had “snapped” and didn’t know why.

Balcer, now 18, is charged with two counts of murder in the deaths of his parents, Antonio and Alice Balcer, both 47. He was a month shy of turning 18 when his parents were killed around 1:30 a.m. on Oct. 31, 2016, at their home on Pine Knoll Road in Winthrop.

The state wants Balcer tried as an adult, but defense attorney Walter McKee says the teenager should remain in the juvenile system. They will argue the issue before District Court Judge Eric Walker on Thursday. He is expected to issue a ruling at a later date.

Balcer, wearing a long-sleeved white dress shirt and dark tie and trousers, with his dark hair pulled back in a ponytail, was in court for the morning session, but after a lunch break did not want to remain for the rest of the three-hour interview recording or for the psychologist’s testimony. He was allowed to leave and return to custody after he answered several questions from Walker and indicated he understood that he had the right to be in court but opted against it.

Debra Baeder, the chief forensic psychologist with the State Forensic Service, evaluated Balcer several times over the past year and hinted at a motive for the killings by saying that Balcer repressed his emotions and that they had festered.

She said he was suicidal – and had made several attempts to kill himself – and “harbored some homicidal inclinations towards his parents.”

Baeder testified that Balcer told her, “I was an embarrassment; I shouldn’t have been alive.”

Baeder also said Balcer recounted an argument with his father after Antonio Balcer made a derogatory comment about a transgender person.

“He thought it could get physically confrontational if his father knew” about Balcer’s own struggles, she said.

Baeder said that Balcer was bright, that he was emotionally repressed and that he had been treated for depression a year or two before the slayings, but that he did not bond well with the counselor.

During Wednesday’s hearing, audio was played of both 911 calls that followed the Halloween morning killings and of Balcer’s interview with police. Balcer phoned police after the slayings.

“I snapped,” Balcer said. “I don’t know why.”

Balcer, in a separate 911 recording also played Wednesday, said he stabbed his mother, then stabbed his father when his father woke up upon hearing his wife’s screams.

On the recording, Balcer told police that his mother was hugging him in his bedroom to try to comfort him when he plunged a knife into her back.

The 17-year-old continued to stab her as she fell onto his bed and then finally to the floor, according to his interview with police.

When his father ran into the bedroom, Balcer attacked him with the knife, and their struggle left a trail of blood through to the kitchen, where Antonio Balcer died face-up on the floor, police said.

The chief medical examiner testified Wednesday that Alice Balcer was stabbed nine times and Antonio Balcer was stabbed 13 times.

A ‘TONE’ IN HIS HEAD

In the audio played in court, Balcer also talked about walking downstairs with the knife and his father’s handgun to confront his older brother, Christopher, then 25, who was trying to call the police. Balcer said his brother asked him to spare him, so he let him leave.

Balcer recalled killing Lily, the family’s Chihuahua, to stop her barking.

“I did not plan to stab the dog,” he said on the recording. “The dog was an unfortunate collateral damage. I had no intention of hurting any of the animals there.”

Balcer recounted the events to Maine State Police detectives who interviewed him about the two homicides several hours later at the Winthrop Police Department.

Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot played a recording of that interview.

On it, Balcer tells them he doesn’t know why he did it; and when questioned about whether his brother was involved, he said he wasn’t. “It was my own planning and my own actions.”

Balcer also said, “My brother was the only one who would listen to what I said there.”

He described his mother as “condescending” to him and said his father “didn’t care. He’s a guy who lives in my house and eats all my food.”

The above audio recording of Andrew Balcer’s 911 call on Oct. 31, 2016, contains descriptions of violence and offensive language.

He also talked about hearing an occasional “tone” in his head that affected his thinking.

“I figured it’s 13 kilohertz, just a high-pitched, constant tone,” he said, adding that it was present around the time of the slaying.

He said he conceived the plan while in his room, went to the dining room of the home about 1:30 a.m. to get his Ka-Bar knife – which he used for gutting animals while hunting – and then went into the bedroom where his parents were sleeping.

His mother woke up — he said she didn’t see the knife in his hand – and accompanied him to his room. Balcer said he “felt affection” for his mother when she hugged him, but then he stabbed her and “I don’t know why I did what I did there.”

He said he really couldn’t remember what happened until he found himself standing with knife in hand over his father’s dead body.

“I just realized I just straight up murdered both of my parents there,” Balcer said. He told the detectives, “I know I should be having some sort of guilt or remorse, but honestly, at (the) moment I just don’t feel much of anything.”

Balcer said that when the adrenaline wore off later, he felt sick to his stomach.

McKee, Balcer’s attorney, did not question any of the state’s witnesses about what had happened at the scene. McKee said at the outset of the hearing that the defense would focus primarily on opposing “having this then-17-year-old treated in the adult system” rather than on the issue of probable cause.

By 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, Walker ruled that the state had provided enough evidence to show that the Balcers were dead and that there was probable cause to believe that Andrew Balcer “was the person who executed them, basically, in their homes.”

With that conclusion, the burden shifted to the defense to show why the teenager should not be tried as an adult.

Baeder, the forensic psychologist, also weighed in on whether Balcer should remain in the juvenile justice system – where the focus is on rehabilitation – or in the adult criminal justice system.

“I am concerned that his risk to public safety may not be adequately addressed in the time left in the juvenile system,” Baeder said, noting that juveniles can be kept in that system only up to age 21.

 

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