Murder trial first use of forced medication law

Leroy Smith trial begins

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --The man accused of killing his father in Gardiner three years ago had a jury chosen Thursday and will go on trial Monday. And his trial will be the first to happen as a result of a new state law.

Leroy Smith III is accused of brutally stabbing his father in their apartment in 2014. Smith suffers from mental illness. He was initially declared not mentally competent to stand trial, but under a Maine law passed two years ago, he was ordered by the court to take psychiatric medication so that he could become competent and stand trial. A judge ruled him competent earlier this year. 

State Rep. Richard Malaby, (R-Hancock) who sponsored that law, said there will still be questions about the person’s mental state at the time of the crime.    

 "Yes we want them to be rendered competent to stand trial so they can accept what they’ve done even though they may well have been in a state of severe persistent mental illness," said Malaby.

Malaby said he still has concerns about what happens to the mentally ill person if they're convicted. Do they go to jail or will they be declared not criminally responsible, and sent to the Riverview hospital?  " This is a complex issue," he said.

 Some advocates for the mentally ill opposed that law and still do. Jenna Mehnert of NAMI Maine said Thursday the focus should be on treating the mental illness so people get well, not just to get them into court.

"What other illness do we try to treat just to hold people accountable as opposed to making them well?," asked Mehnert.

The Kennebec Journal reports that Leroy Smith III on Thursday entered an additional plea of “not criminally responsible”, for the crime based on his mental illness. It will be up to the judge to decide that if Smith is found guilty. Smith's trial is scheduled for Monday.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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