March 22, 2013

Riverview ballpoint pen attack stopped by patient

By Betty Adams badams@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA — A patient at Riverview Psychiatric Center attacked a 26-year-old mental health worker, punching her, striking her with his hands and stabbing her with a pen.

click image to enlarge

Mark Murphy

Contributed photo

Then a second patient came to her rescue.

That assault and rescue on Saturday are described in an affidavit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court to support assault charges against Mark Murphy, 47, formerly of York County, a Riverview patient with a history of unprovoked attacks on staff.

According to Capitol Police Sgt. Robert Elliot, Murphy apologized to the woman, and then he assaulted her "by punching and striking her with his hands and a pen."

The woman curled up on the floor and tried to protect her head with her hands. The attack continued until the second patient tackled Murphy to the floor, Elliot wrote.

The assistance appears to have come from Kirk Lambert, 32, of Augusta, a Riverview patient who is listed as a witness on Elliot's police affidavit. Lambert was found not criminally responsible in 2000 for a robbery and had recently been returned to the hospital from an apartment in Augusta where he was living.

The victim was later treated at MaineGeneral Medical Center for injuries to her arms, face and hand, and she had surgery to remove the tip of a pen from her hand, Elliot wrote.

Murphy was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of elevated aggravated assault: one alleging that he committed the offense intentionally or knowingly, the other alleging he engaged in conduct "that manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life."

Both charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison.

Murphy was also charged with aggravated assault in connection with the same offense. That charge carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

Murphy, who is being held at the Kennebec County jail in Augusta, appeared subdued at his initial court appearance Friday via video in Augusta District Court.

Wearing an orange jail uniform over a white, long-sleeved shirt, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Murphy was in handcuffs and guarded closely by two corrections officers who wore what appeared to be blue latex gloves.

His case was heard separately from the other 11 inmates on the in-custody list. A corrections officer at the Kennebec County jail told the judge that Murphy was being brought down separately "for safety and security reasons." The video hearing room was cleared of all other inmates before Murphy was escorted in.

Judge Beth Dobson warned him about the potential penalties and set a hearing in the case for 10 a.m. May 28.

Murphy was represented at the hearing by attorney Lisa Whittier, who said she did not intend to argue for bail.

Whittier also suggested that Dobson appoint attorney J. Mitchell Flick to represent Murphy on the criminal charges since Flick represents him in proceedings involving conditions under which Murphy is held at Riverview.

Murphy said only, "Yes," when Dobson asked if that was acceptable to him. That was the only comment he made to the judge throughout the brief hearing.

Dobson set his bail at $25,000, with conditions that he have no contact with the victim and her family. Other conditions ban him from having weapons, set a curfew of 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., and require him to take medication as prescribed.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney previously described the woman's injuries as horrible.

"You wouldn't think of a pen as a deadly weapon," she said.

Murphy previously attacked a number of staff and fellow patients at Riverview. The psychiatric center is the state's only hospital for forensic patients — people committed to state custody after being found not criminally responsible for criminal offenses.

On Feb. 1, 2006, Murphy was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of the crime of aggravated criminal trespass for breaking into a neighbor's home in York County in November 2004.

In that incident, the homeowner shot Murphy in the chest.

For the past seven years, Murphy has remained at Riverview in the custody of the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services. A superior court judge has had to sign off on incremental steps that allow him some supervised time off hospital grounds.

A report to Kennebec County Superior Court by Riverview in April 2007 showed that within six weeks of Murphy's arrival at the hospital, "he had committed three assaults on staff members, the third assault was nearly fatal."

Court records also show the hospital reported that Murphy assaulted another patient with a fork on Oct. 9, 2007.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
badams@centralmaine.com

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