Judge rules Bryan Wood isn't able to stand trial in Lewiston arson

AUBURN — No date has yet been set to release Bryan Wood from the Androscoggin County Jail, a release ordered by a Superior Court justice Friday who found Wood is incompetent to stand trial on multiple arson charges in connection with a rash of downtown fires last May.

Bryan Wood
Sun Journal file photo

Bryan Wood makes his initial appearance in 8th District Court in Lewiston with his attorney, Steven Carey, right.

Justice MaryGay Kennedy found Wood, 23, of Lewiston to be incompetent based on his low IQ and inability to fully understand the criminal proceedings against him. And, according to expert forensic psychology testimony, Wood does not "possess the reasoning abilities to make informed decisions related to defending his case."

This is the second time arson charges against Wood have been dismissed based on court rulings of incompetency. The first time was in 2008 in Cumberland County when Wood was 18 years old.

At the time, he was sent to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta for treatment before being released; he will return to Riverview for treatment in the more recent case.

On Friday during the competency hearing, a former friend of Wood testified that he told her — based on the 2008 dismissal for lack of competency — that he "could pretty much get away with any crime he pleased."

In July, Wood and Brian Morin, 30, of Lewiston were each indicted on three counts of arson in connection with fires set at two vacant apartments buildings on Bartlett Street and a third, occupied building on Horton Street on May 6.

Since then, three psychologists who evaluated Wood have each testified that he lacks the necessary reasoning skills to be found competent to stand trial. The experts testified that Wood can grasp simple terms and concepts about the legal process, but not enough to understand a plea offer that involved any degree of complexity.

Wood has repeatedly denied the charges against him and, according to expert testimony, has consistently expressed his desire to "fight" the charges and "tell his side."

According to Kennedy's order, he will be released from the county jail and transferred to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services for evaluation, but given evidence that there is no "substantial probability that he will become competent in the foreseeable future," he can be held under DHHS commitment for no more than a year before the arson charges will be dismissed and he will be released.

When Wood was 4 years old, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and mental retardation, now called intellectual disability disorder, making him eligible for special education services.

According to court testimony, Wood's IQ was tested between 55 and 57, which places him in the bottom 10 percent of the population. And, although the court found he demonstrates "some level of coherency and the ability to interact," including living on his own, he is unable to hold a job and relies on SSI/SSDI and his mother for financial support.

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Comments

Jake Paris's picture

insane

This is ridiculous -- he's right, he really is able to do any damn thing he wants and then walk. Maybe next he'll kill some people while selling heroin to 3 year olds -- what difference does it make? Bryan Wood has a get-out-of-jail-free card and he can do anything he wants. Burn down some more houses Bryan! Who's gonna stop you?

Randall Pond's picture

I am sorry to say

Society Needs to Lock this man away in a Facility for the rest of his life. He Purposes Commits Crimes and Claims this Bullshit of not understanding. He know Precisely What He's doing and until We Lock him Away For Good He'll Continue to Do Things. What does, He have to Murder someone Before we Lock him up for Good? Really Seriously? Has Maine's Court System Seriously going to Let this Guy get away with it? WHAT IS THIS STATE AND COUNTRY COMING TO? ARSONISTS GETTING AWAY WITH SETTING FIRES?! WHAT'S NEXT MURDERERS GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER?! TIME FOR NEW D/A AND JUDGE IN THIS CASE, PLEASE!

ERNEST LABBE's picture

How many people

How many people are going to die in a fire he started before he is taken off the streets. he doesn't understand a plea bargin, fine don't offer him one. Let he go before a jury and if aquitted fine. If convicted thats fine.

A plea bargin is only a way to save the DA a lot of leg work. Or an admission by the authorities that they really don't have enough proof of the defendant doing the crime.

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