SKOWHEGAN (AP) – A Portland bus station worker with a long history of schizophrenia was found innocent by reason of insanity Wednesday for the murder of a Portland cab driver last year.

Derek-Finn Wilhelmsen, 23, will likely be sent to Augusta Mental Health Institute for an indefinite period following the decision by Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills.

Mills presided over Wilhelmsen’s three-day trial without a jury last month for the shooting death of Nunzi Mancini, 38, on Feb. 11, 2002, in a driveway off Route 100 in Pittsfield.

Evidence showed that Wilhelmsen, upset because of a breakup with girlfriend Amy Towle, took Mancini’s cab from Portland to Pittsfield, intending to kill Towle and her baby.

He killed Mancini instead, he told state police detectives, after the cab driver, commiserating with Wilhelmsen about his relationship problems, used a vulgarity to describe Towle.

The defense spent little time contesting the facts of the case, focusing instead on Wilhelmsen’s mental health history and expert testimony.

Psychologists and a psychiatrist testified that Wilhelmsen was severely schizophrenic, although he did not manifest it publicly. He was beset by violent, almost ghoulish images and obsessed with death; he also heard voices and was profoundly paranoid, they testified.

Ann LeBlanc, head of the Maine Forensic Service, testified that at the time of the killing, Wilhelmsen’s symptoms were so pronounced he had little ability to control his impulses and was unable to foresee the consequences of his actions.

But in his final written arguments, Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson argued that Wilhelmsen killed Mancini in a rage and was perfectly able to tell right from wrong at the time – the crucial legal test in the insanity defense.

Benson noted that, three days prior to Mancini’s death, Wilhelmsen left a Bangor motel room where Towle was sleeping rather than give in to impulses to strangle or suffocate her.

“Everything that the defendant said and did at the time of the incident tends to show that he not only had the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct, he also had an actual appreciation of the wrongfulness of his conduct,” Benson wrote.

AP-ES-06-18-03 1112EDT



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