A judge on Monday ordered that a Poland man accused of killing his brother last week undergo a psychological evaluation to determine if he is competent to assist in his own defense and stand trial.
Justin Butterfield, 34, will be held without bail at the Androscoggin County Jail after making his first court appearance remotely until a bail hearing can be set to determine if he is eligible for bail, District Court Judge Tammy Ham-Thompson ordered.
The mutilated body of 38-year-old Gabriel Damour of Poland was found at a trailer on Poplar Drive after police were called to investigate a disturbance at around 10:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving, according to Shannon Moss, a Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson.
His death was ruled a homicide by sharp force trauma, blunt force trauma and strangulation.
A screwdriver, hypodermic needles, a baseball bat, a tire iron and other objects were found sticking out of the body, according to a police affidavit.
Butterfield allegedly told police that he had been fighting for 24 hours with “the terminator” before slaying him. He said “the terminator” had a tattoo similar to his brother’s, but he did not believe the man he killed was his brother.
Butterfield was not asked to enter a plea Monday as he has not yet been indicted by the Androscoggin County grand jury.
His attorney, Verne Paradie of Lewiston, told the judge that Butterfield understood that he had been charged with murder but did not understand why.
Butterfield has a history of mental illness and frequent but brief hospitalizations, according to his ex-girlfriend Yaicha Provencher.
“Since 2018, I’ve been advocating for him,” she told the Lewiston Sun Journal. “There [were] so many calls to the hospitals about keeping him because he was a danger to himself and others. But nobody ever listened.”
Butterfield had been hospitalized at least half a dozen times since April, but generally released within two to three days without a long-term plan, Provencher told the newspaper.
“There were two stays where he was held for six to eight days,” she told the Sun Journal. “That’s the longest they would keep him.”
That mental health history could allow Butterfield to plead not guilty by reason of insanity when he is asked to enter a plea to the murder charge. If Butterfield is found not competent to assist in his own defense, he could be sent to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and treated until he is competent.
Whether found competent or not, the next step would be to determine Butterfield’s state of mind at the time of the crime. If forensic psychiatric examinations determine that he was not sane at the time of the alleged crime, Butterfield would be committed to Riverview until a judge determined it was safe for him to be released to the community.
If he went to trial and a jury found him guilty of murder, Butterfield would face between 25 years and life. Maine law allows for a person convicted of a slaying that involved torture, as Damour appears to have suffered, to receive a life sentence.