AUGUSTA – The man who bludgeoned two nuns to death 17 years ago was granted court approval Friday to have unsupervised time in public, even though District Attorney Maeghan Maloney strongly objected to the change as a threat to the community.

Mark A. Bechard, 53, was committed to a state psychiatric hospital after killing the two nuns and severely injuring two others in a Waterville chapel in January 1996, when he was acutely psychotic.

Maloney told Justice Donald Marden during a petition hearing in Kennebec County Superior Court that she objected to Bechard having any unsupervised time, based on his crimes.

“I think we’re moving too quickly,” she said. “Only 17 years ago, Mr. Bechard committed some brutal murders; his (having) unsupervised time in the community is not safe.”

She said that since Bechard was moved last September from the group home on state hospital grounds to a home on Glenridge Drive in Augusta, community members have continued to contact her about their concerns.

Marden thanked her for providing input but rejected her plea.

“I appeal to the community not to be a threat to Mr. Bechard,” Marden said.

Bechard has remained in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, but he lives in a group home near the Riverview Psychiatric Center.

The privileges will allow Bechard to be unsupervised for up to an hour at a time at activities such as an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and at Capitol Club House, a nearby social club for people with mental illness. The unsupervised time also applies to short periods of sitting at a picnic table outdoors at his group home, or walking or shopping. He must be supervised by group home personnel or DHHS employees at all other times.

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

[email protected]