AUGUSTA — A Riverview Psychiatric Center patient who was shot by police two years ago when he stabbed himself with a knife and threatened others has lost his latest bid to be released.

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday issued a ruling affirming a judgment from superior court that denied Jason Begin’s petition to be released and discharged from the custody of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. The ruling follows a separate supreme court ruling last year that also struck down his bid to be released.

Earlier this year, Begin, 39, did win a judge’s permission to begin the process of moving from the state hospital for the mentally ill to a supervised apartment or group home in the community. He remains a Riverview outpatient while living under the supervised conditions.

Separately, Begin also is suing the Augusta police officer who shot him in a federal civil case.

Begin was placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004 after being found not criminally responsible for theft of an airplane and violating conditions of release. He crash-landed the plane in 2003 in Canada in an apparent failed suicide attempt while he was facing charges of sexually assaulting family members.

Begin, in his appeal of being denied release as a patient, argued that the superior court made a mistake in finding that he failed to prove he “may be released or discharged without likelihood that (he) will cause injury to (himself) or to others due to mental dissease or mental defect.”

In denying Begin’s bid to be released as a Riverview patient, the supreme court ruled that, “contrary to Begin’s argument, our focus … was on the legal definition of ‘mental disease or defect’ — not the medical diagnoses that contributed to a finding of mental disease or defect.”

“We have never held that an acquittee is entitled to release or discharge if he proves that the specific mental diagnosis by which he was found to have a mental disease or defect no longer exists,” the high court’s ruling said. “Accordingly, the (superior) court applied the correct standard when it denied Begin’s petition for release and discharge.”

Begin had lived at Riverview for more than nine years before getting court permission in the fall of 2013 to move to a supervised group home in Augusta.

In January 2015 Begin began stabbing himself with a knife and threatened to hurt others when a Riverview outpatient team told him he was being returned to the hospital during an investigation into a report that he had used marijuana and sold it to someone. At the time, Begin had been in supervised housing in Augusta and working at a retail store.

Augusta police Officer Laura Drouin, who had responded to a call from a Riverview outpatient team for assistance in returning Begin to the hospital, shot Begin three times — twice in the chest and once in the shoulder.

Begin spent five weeks hospitalized at MaineGeneral Medical Center for treatment of his wounds. The state attorney general concluded that Drouin’s action was justified.

filed under: