May 6, 2013

Falmouth mom was about to commit son, state police say

Andrew Leighton shot his mother in the back of the head as she walked to the phone, he told authorities.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

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Andrew Leighton appears in Cumberland County Unified Court along with his attorney Robert LeBrasseur on Monday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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Leighton pursued him at first, but then turned back to the house.

Thomas Leighton called police, who surrounded the house. After a five-hour standoff, Leighton surrendered. Later, during an interview at the Cumberland County Jail, he told police he shot his mother in the head as she was about to call the psychiatric facility, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook.

He told police that he had bought the gun, a Baby Eagle, and its .40-caliber ammunition at Cabela's in Scarborough on Thursday.

Leighton has no previous criminal history in Maine, according to the State Bureau of Identification, and nothing in state criminal records would have disqualified him from legally purchasing a gun.

If Leighton had ever been involuntarily committed for mental health treatment, he would have been disqualified from purchasing and owning a firearm, but Assistant Attorney General Lisa Marchese said that does not appear to be the case.

"The information I have right now is that he's never been previously involuntarily committed," Marchese said. She said Cabela's apparently performed the required background check and Leighton passed.

Marchese said after Monday's court hearing that Leighton "may have some issues -- mental health history."

Police had been called to the Leighton house once before -- in May 2012 -- for an incident involving Andrew Leighton, said Falmouth police Lt. Jon Kilbride. Kilbride said the call was a medical call, but he would not elaborate, saying it might be related to the murder investigation.

Kilbride said several Falmouth police officers knew Thomas and Shirley Leighton and found them to be "wonderful people."

LeBrasseur said Leighton probably will remain in jail and a state forensic psychiatrist will talk to him there.

"It was clear he was hearing voices," LeBrasseur said after the hearing. "As a defense attorney, I want to be sure he's competent at every stage of the process."

Marchese said Leighton must be found competent before he can participate in any other court proceedings. Sometimes that requires treatment, she said.

A woman in the courtroom who appeared to be a family member declined to comment after the hearing.

Warren delayed any future court appearances until after the competency evaluation is received.

"We'd like them to do a thorough job, not an expedited job, under the circumstances," he said. 

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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