PORTLAND (AP) – In a case he characterized as “bizarre,” a judge has denied bail to a Portland woman accused of stabbing her best friend’s 15-month-old child and then setting a fire to cover up the crime.

Superior Court Justice Roland Cole tried to order a psychiatric evaluation for the defendant, Christine Courchesne, 27, but her lawyer blocked the order, saying his client’s mental health was not at issue.

Cole said he would reserve the right to order an evaluation later.

The hearing Tuesday included testimony from a police detective, who said Courchesne admitted to setting the fire and suggested she had stabbed the boy, Kayd’n Neves. The defense maintained that Courchense is innocent and that someone else was responsible for the stabbing and fire.

“This is a very unusual case,” Cole said. “Some very unusual testimony was produced here today. The fact situation is unusual or bizarre.”

Courchesne, who was charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault and arson, has been held as a maximum security inmate at the Cumberland County Jail.

According to testimony at the bail hearing, Courchesne woke her best friend and neighbor Tiffany Post in the early morning of July 20. Post said Courchesne was holding Kayd’n in her arms and told her that their building was on fire.

According to Post, the women took turns holding Kayd’n while watching firefighters. When the boy started panting, Post looked at him closely and found that he was bleeding and had stab wounds.

Kayd’n was treated at Maine Medical Center for seven wounds, including a punctured diaphragm and lung.

Investigators found the source of the fire inside Post’s storage locker. A bag of charcoal had been ignited inside a metal pan that was resting on top of a wooden stool. Underneath the bag were several items, including a baby’s pacifier and a large knife.

In a series of statements to detectives, Courchesne said that she knew what items were in the pan, and that she had started the blaze. She said she set the fire to cover up any evidence that would link her to Kayd’n’s injury, said Detective Todd Coons.

Courchesne’s lawyer, J.P. DeGrinney, said his client loves Kayd’n and would not hurt him. He said Courchesne is easily controlled and may have been covering up for others when she talked to police.

“She didn’t do it,” DeGrinney said outside the courthouse. “A false confession is not beyond the scope here.”

AP-ES-09-08-04 0229EDT



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.