PORTLAND — A Superior Court judge said he will decide Thursday whether a man caught loading a gun behind Portland High School was too delusional to understand what he was doing was wrong.

Herbert Jones is charged with attempted murder, stalking and possession of a firearm on school property after he was arrested on May 18, 2009. A school resource officer spotted him loading a high-powered rifle and when confronted, he explained that he was going to kill a pedophile he thought was attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the adjacent First Parish Church.

Jones had entered a plea in Cumberland County Superior Court of not criminally responsible because of mental disease or defect, commonly called the insanity defense.

Jones’ lawyer, Neale Duffett, said in closing arguments today that Jones is clearly mentally ill and that his illness prevented him from fully comprehending the wrongfulness of his actions.

Assistant District Attorney Kate Tierney closed by saying that just because Jones has a mental illness does not mean he cannot tell right from wrong. She said Jones planned his crime ahead of time and felt relieved after being stopped, both of which show he understood the significance of his actions.

In addition to determining whether Jones is not criminally responsible, Justice Robert Crowley also will rule on Duffett’s motion to dismiss the attempted murder charge. Duffett said the state had not proven the elements of the case, namely that Jones had take substantial steps toward committing murder.

11:44 a.m.

A psychologist with the Maine Forensics Service testified today that Herbert Jones was capable of knowing right from wrong when he allegedly prepared to shoot a registered sex offender last year.

Dr. Kerry Drach said Jones, 47, may have had serious psychiatric symptoms but he still knew “he shouldn’t do what he was doing.” Drach was the final witness in Jones’ trial that began Tuesday.

Jones is charged with attempted murder, stalking, and possession of a firearm on school property after he was arrested on the morning of May 18, 2009, next to Portland High School. He was loading a rifle that he had bought days earlier when a Portland police officer saw him and ordered him at gunpoint to put down the rifle. He later told police he was intent on killing a man he thought was in the adjacent church, attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. 

He has pleaded not criminally responsible by reason of mental disease or defect, commonly called the insanity defense

Cumberland County Superior Court Judge Robert Crowley is hearing the case and will decide whether Jones goes to prison or is committed to a psychiatric hospital.