PARIS – State prosecutors are asking a judge to order a mental evaluation of Christian C. Nielsen, the 31-year-old cook charged with killing four people in Newry and Upton over the Labor Day holiday.

The request, filed as a motion in superior court in Paris Monday, should be considered routine, said Bill Stokes, chief of the Maine Attorney General’s criminal division.

Nielsen is accused of killing four people: The victims include James Whitehurst, 50, of Batesville, Ark.; Julie Bullard, 65; her daughter, Selby Bullard, 30, both of Newry, and Cindy Beatson, 43, of Bethel.

Julie Bullard owned the Black Bear Bed & Breakfast in Newry where Nielsen was living. The dismembered bodies of both Bullards and Beatson were found on the grounds of the bed and breakfast while Whitehurst’s burned remains where found at a remote location an estimated 25 miles away in Upton on land owned by a private timber company.

Police also believe Nielsen shot and killed Julie Bullard’s three golden retrievers.

“I would not read anything into it other than we want to get, as close to the event as possible – an evaluation of his state of mind,” Stokes said Wednesday.

The evaluation is meant to determine whether Nielsen is competent to stand trial and whether or not he knows right from wrong, Stokes said. As best as it can, the state wants to know the suspect’s state of mind in the event that it becomes a defense for the crimes he’s accused of, Stokes said. “It’s not unusual at all,” Stokes said of the motion.

The evaluation will “determine his mental condition with reference to issues of competency, criminal responsibility, abnormal condition of mind, and any other issue involving his mental or emotional condition,” the state’s motion by Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson reads.

Last week, Nielsen was moved from Oxford County Jail after he attacked another inmate, Ryan Brown, 22, of Conway, N.H., by hitting Brown in the head with the wringer from a mop bucket, according to jail officials.

Capt. Ernest Martin, Oxford County’s jail administrator, called the attack on Brown “unprovoked.” Brown later told a television news crew that Nielsen was enjoying his notoriety and laughed about news accounts of the slayings.

Brown is charged with robbery, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, assault and aggravated criminal mischief. He was not seriously injured in the attack, jail officials said.

Ron Hoffman of Rumford, one of Nielsen’s two hired defense attorneys, is objecting to the prosecution’s request for the mental evaluation. Hoffman declined to elaborate why when asked Wednesday.

“Answer will be forthcoming in one written motion in response to the state’s request,” Hoffman scrawled on a faxed message requesting comment on the case. Hoffman has declined requests for interviews and asked that media questions regarding the case be submitted to his office only by fax.

So far no motive for the crimes has been revealed by either Hoffman, police or prosecutors.

“We are not going to discuss that at any point publicly,” Stokes said.

Nielsen’s defense team – Hoffman and former state prosecutor Margot Joly of Wilton – would be provided with the information from the state’s case as it is collected and assembled, Stokes said.

“They will get it as it is prepared,” he said.

But the number of victims, witnesses interviewed and evidence gathered made for “an enormous undertaking,” Stokes said.

“This is a very voluminous case so that process goes on constantly,” Stokes said. Still it’s unlikely investigative details would be made public by the state, he said.

Meanwhile, the state will present its evidence against Nielsen to an Oxford County grand jury on Oct. 4. Those proceedings are closed to the public. A status conference between the state and the defense lawyers has also been scheduled for Oct. 19, according to court records.

A previously scheduled court hearing on whether bail might be set for Nielsen was postponed at the request of his defense attorneys because they do not have enough information from the state to adequately represent their client in those proceedings, they argued in a filing requesting the delay.

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