Slaying suspect awaiting psychiatric evaluation

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PARIS — A Peru man accused of killing his mother-in-law in front of his six-year-old daughter has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if he is competent to stand trial, according to his attorney.

Paul Orchard, 33, remains at Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset pending an opening at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta. A judge has ordered him to undergo a mental examination by the State Forensic Service there. 

In the complaint filed with the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which prosecutes capital crimes, Orchard is charged with one count of depraved indifference murder and one count of felony murder in the sexual assault and strangulation death of Paula Nuttall, 57, who died at their home on Main Street on Oct. 11.

The medical examiner determined Nuttall died from cardiac arrest during strangulation and sexual assault.

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Bail was set $100,000 on the felony murder charge, but Orchard is waiting for a bail hearing on the charge of depraved indifference murder.

If convicted, Orchard faces a maximum of 30 years in prison for the first count, while the second count carries a sentence of 25 years to life. 

In separate filings, state prosecutors and defense attorney Sarah Glynn submitted motions requesting state examiners evaluate if Orchard should be held criminally responsible and whether he was insane or suffered from an abnormal condition of mind at the time of the offense.

According to court documents filed by Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, Orchard has been previously treated for a mental illness and the circumstances of the case suggest those may persist. 

“The State anticipates that one of the likely issues in this case will be whether at the time of the offense the defendant was engaging in conduct that manifested a depraved indifference to murder or either intentional or knowing conduct as defined by the Maine Criminal Code, or the extent to which he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct,” Zainea wrote. 

Responding to a 911 call from the Nuttall house, police allegedly found Orchard covered in polyurethane and atop Nuttall. 

According to an affidavit by Detective Michael Chavez of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, Lt. Daniel Carrier of the Mexico Police Department reported Orchard told his mother, Margaret Rosher, during a phone call from the hospital after the incident, “It was like a vapor high or somethin’ when I was doin’ the floor over.”

He said he didn’t remember attacking Nuttall, the affidavit said.

“I was high, it was an accident. It was a vapor, I didn’t have a mask on,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Orchard’s daughter was playing outside when she heard Orchard and Nuttall, her grandmother, arguing. She went inside and found him beating Nuttall, who told her granddaughter hit him with a bottle, which she did. When Carrier arrived, the girl met him on the porch and asked him to help her grandmother, the affidavit said.

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