Monday, December 9, 2013
By Betty Adams firstname.lastname@example.org
AUGUSTA — Christopher Knight, the man known as the North Pond Hermit, will not be in Kennebec County Superior Court Tuesday as scheduled on charges of burglarizing Pine Tree Camp in Rome.
The case against Knight, 47, suspected of more than 1,000 burglaries and thefts over the past 27 years, was set to be presented to the grand jury next week, but District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Wednesday that his case will be put off until a mental health evaluation is complete.
Knight has said he lived alone in the woods in the Rome and Smithfield area for nearly three decades, stealing everything he needed to survive from private camps and from Pine Tree Camp, which serves disabled children and adults.
Maloney and Kinight's attorney Walter McKee both said Wednesday that they agreed on the postponement until the evaluation, which has yet to be scheduled, has been done.
"Normally we would always indict if someone's in custody," Maloney said.
Knight is being held in Kennebec County jail in lieu of $25,000 cash bail that carries a number of special conditions, so he is likely to remain there.
An evaluation of Knight by the State Forensic Service was ordered earlier this month by Justice Michaela Murphy.
McKee agreed to waive speedy trial concerns and wanted to meet with the prosecutor to discuss Knight's case once Knight's evaluation is complete. "Clearly the evaluation will give all sides the information they need to best assess the right resolution of this case," he said via email. Knight told investigators he left his Albion home around 1986 and lived alone in the woods since then.
He was arrested April 4 as he was leaving the dining hall at Pine Tree Camp, which was closed for the season, with a backpack and duffel bag laden with frozen food and tools.
Knight's story about living alone in the woods for so long attracted national attention as well as sympathy for the man the media dubbed the North Pond Hermit.
He'd been rumored to exist for years, and camp owners along North, Little North and East ponds have said they will be much more comfortable on their property this year knowing the elusive hermit is in custody.
So far, Knight is charged with two burglaries and two thefts at the Pine Tree Camp, as well as a break-in last fall at a private camp, also in Rome.
Betty Adams 621-5631