AUGUSTA — An Augusta man facing charges of attempted murder and arson in connection with an Aug. 24, 2013, house fire lost a bid to keep his hospital-bed interview out of any trial.

The attorney for Jason K. Brown, 30, formerly of Waterville, argued that Augusta Detective Tori Tracy’s questioning of Brown three days later at MaineGeneral Medical Center was custodial and was involuntary.

Attorney Adam Sherman said Brown was asleep when Tracy arrived at his room and that he had overdosed on pills and alcohol less than three days earlier in an apparent suicide attempt, reflecting his mental distress.

Tracy’s recording of that 18-minute conversation was played in Kennebec County Superior Court on Tuesday.

On it, Brown’s voice occasionally sounds muffled, but he tells Tracy he was “messed up” and angry and that he set the fire, which was reported at 1:12 a.m. at 11 Fairfield St. in Augusta. However, Brown also says he cannot remember why he was angry, how he started the fire or which part of the house had been set on fire.

Tracy can be heard telling him, “I’m not here to make things worse for you.”

Brown tells her he had taken 20 150-mg Wellbutrin pills (an anti-depressant) and had been drinking beer at a Bangor Street cemetery apparently prior to the fire.

Tracy testified that she did not tell Brown the interview was being recorded.

“The court finds there is nothing in the evidence before it — particularly listening to the recording — to suggest there was anything other than a voluntary conversation,” Justice Donald Marden ruled at the close of the hearing.

He also found that the interview was voluntary. “There is nothing here the court finds coercive, nothing threatening and nothing to suggest he was under an imperative to answer the officer’s questions,” Marden said.

In response to Sherman’s question, Tracy testified that the information Brown provided in that interview “put him at the cemetery, had been drinking, and put him at the fire,” she said.

“It only verified the information I already had,” she said.

Tracy said she had been searching for Brown to check his welfare and question him because he had disappeared after the fire. She testified that city police had previously found him in a ditch as a result of an apparent overdose.

She said she checked the Augusta hospital after Brown’s relatives said they didn’t know where he was.

Sherman questioned her about her interview techniques, saying, “This is a very sensitive individual who’s in the hospital.”

At the close of the interview, Tracy asks for Brown’s cellphone number and a way to contact him.

“We can’t have you doing this again, setting fire to someone else’s place,” she says. Tracy also urged him to get help following his release from MaineGeneral. Brown was apparently admitted to a second hospital for mental health treatment following his release from MaineGeneral.

Assistant District Attorney Kristin Murray James argued that the interview was noncustodial and was voluntary on Brown’s part.

“It was his decision, his free will to talk with Tori Tracy,” she told the judge.

Tracy was the only witness on Tuesday. Brown, who is in custody, sat with his attorney, but did not testify.

Brown was indicted in May on four charges related to the fire and has pleaded not guilty to them all. The attempted murder and arson charges each carry maximum penalties of 30 years in prison. The attempted murder count alleges that Brown took a “substantial step toward commission” of trying to cause the death of James W. McKenna Jr. by igniting a fire at the Fairfield Street home where McKenna was living.

The two arson charges say Brown intentionally started the fire to harm people and/or property of McKenna, Stephen Gass and/or Terry Marston. No one was hurt in the fire.

“He threatened to kill James McKenna and later that night went and burned the place where he was living, and that affected these other people as well,” District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said previously.

A related aggravated criminal mischief charge says Brown caused more than $2,000 in damage to siding and other building materials belonging to Gass.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

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Twitter: @betadams