AUGUSTA — The spiritual beliefs and occult writings of a man found not criminally responsible for killing his brother in 2008 were a factor for officials as they considered his request for expanded privileges Friday, which came on the heels of his previously rejected request for discharge from state custody.
Enoch Petrucelly was found not criminally responsible by reason of insanity for stabbing his brother to death in 2008 on a visit to North Haven island. He was committed to the custody of the state Department of Health and Human Services for mental health treatment. He was initially committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta, where members of his treatment team said he responded almost immediately to medication for his schizophrenia, which had caused auditory hallucinations that were a factor in him using a sword, concealed inside a cane, to stab his brother to death.
He has since progressed through the forensic mental health system, moving from Riverview to a group home then, in 2014, moving to a supervised apartment. He is currently living independently in an apartment. Each such move requires Petrucelly to petition the courts, which then hold a hearing. A judge then must approve the request.
Petrucelly, 37, formerly of Palmyra, is now living in Augusta, according to his social media accounts.
Last year Petrucelly petitioned for discharge from the custody of the state, seeking to regain his independence. That request was denied, according to Laura Yustak, an assistant attorney general for the state. This year he again sought to be discharged from the custody of the state, but revised his petition after his treatment team recommended that request not be approved. He first sought to have open-ended passes from the state to visit with his girlfriend at her residence in Maine. Then he revised that again, down to the request reviewed favorably Friday by Superior Court Justice Bruce Mallonee, to double the number of overnight passes which allow him, with prior approval, to stay with his girlfriend for up to 48 hours at a time. Instead of having 12 passes, he could now have 24.
Mallonee didn’t rule on that request Friday but indicated he would approve it soon, once the final language of the changes is finalized.
During that hearing, mental health officials said part of their analysis of Petrucelly and whether he poses a risk to society has included reviewing his spiritual beliefs and writings, which officials are aware of because he is a published author and has a social media presence where he claims to channel spirits and identifies himself as a male witch and occult author.
Aaron Pontin, Petrucelly’s current case manager with the Riverview outpatient services team who sees him monthly, said Petrucelly has been doing very well and follows the court orders regarding his treatment. He said he already has a lot of privileges including 15 hours of unsupervised time, the ability to visit his family, owning a vehicle and having the ability work or volunteer if he chooses.
Yustak said the institutional report that followed Petrucelly’s request for increased privileges noted the team of Riverview officials involved in his treatment reviewed the spiritual beliefs he’s expressed publicly.
Dr. Daniel Filene, a Riverview psychiatrist and member of the treatment team, said Petrucelly had acknowledged to him he was considering not publishing some of his writings out of concern they could be reviewed by his mental health treatment providers and could slow his progress through the system. He said that was of some concern, in part because it could indicate a lack of transparency on Petrucelly’s part. He also said it was of some concern Petrucelly didn’t immediately share the news that he had a girlfriend with his treatment providers, which he said they should know about because it’s a significant change in someone’s life.
He said officials would be concerned if Petrucelly’s writings showed his belief system was changing, but said from what he’s seen, it has not changed substantially.
He also said Petrucelly is good about taking his medication and that Petrucelly told him his auditory hallucinations stopped almost immediately after he started taking it, years ago, and have never returned.
Dr. Shalene Kirkley, a forensic psychologist for the Maine Forensic Service, which reviews forensic patients’ requests for discharge or increased privileges, expressed some concern about Petrucelly’s spiritual beliefs as well as him having overnight visits with his girlfriend.
She said when Petrucelly killed his brother he was having religious delusions, though she noted his treatment records indicate he believes his current spiritual beliefs are radically different than the religious delusions he had at the time of his crime.
And she said when he stabbed his brother he had a romantic interest in a woman at the time and had delusions she might have been or could be sexually assaulted, which Kirkley said was a factor that lead to his act of violence.
Harold Hainke, Petrucelly’s attorney, said his request for more overnight visits “is a good first step and puts Mr. Petrucelly on a path of having a little more freedom and also would make for good communication opportunities (with his treatment team) and help keep him on the path of increased transparency he’s been on.”
Petrucelly, a muscular man who wore a suit and tie for Friday’s court session, did not address the court, other than to reply “Thank you, your honor,” when Justice Mallonee said the proposal looked good to him and that he hoped things would go well for Petrucelly.