AUGUSTA (AP) – The Waterville man who killed two nuns during a night of terror at their convent will be allowed to spend a few hours a week outside the mental hospital where he has been confined for the past six years.

Mark Bechard, who is in his mid 40s, was found mentally ill and not criminally responsible for the January 1995 slayings of Mother Superior Edna Mary Cardozo and Sister Marie Julien Fortin and attacks on two others at the Servants of the Blessed Sacrament convent in Waterville.

Bechard was placed in the custody of state mental health officials and confined at the Augusta Mental Health Institute.

Bechard on Thursday sought court authorization to be allowed off the psychiatric hospital’s grounds. It was a request AMHI’s forensic team said was supportive of its goal of having Bechard re-integrated into the community.

In weighing the request, the judge questioned whether Bechard would be safe because of public sentiment over the crime.

Bechard stood up and told the court: “I have always been eccentric in town. I have never blown up at anyone. It’s important to me to prove myself that way.”

The judge granted the request for Bechard to be released with one-on-one supervision to go shopping or engage in outdoor activities such as fishing or swimming.

Bechard, a talented musician who dreamed of becoming a Catholic priest, had attended services at the nuns’ chapel many times prior to the rampage that began when he broke into the convent and began stabbing and stomping the nuns.

AP-ES-05-30-03 1906EDT

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