ALFRED (AP) – A 21-year-old man charged with killing his mother, stepfather and half brother will undergo a psychological evaluation, a judge ordered Monday at the man’s initial court appearance.

Matthew Cushing appeared in York County Superior Court on three counts of murder and one count of arson. He is accused of fatally stabbing the three family members last Wednesday and then setting their Old Orchard Beach home on fire.

Cushing wore a bandage on one hand and looked straight ahead as Justice Paul Fritzsche read the charges. He avoided eye contact with other relatives who were in the courtroom holding hands and crying during the brief hearing.

Cushing was represented by a court-appointed attorney, Joel Vincent of Portland, and did not enter a plea.

Cushing is charged with killing his mother, Carol Bolduc, stepfather Christopher Bolduc and his 15-year-old half brother, Joshua Bolduc.

Until late last year, Cushing was a student at the University of Maine. His college friends said the crime doesn’t fit with the Cushing they knew.

“I had never, ever seen anything like this coming,” said Shawn Coulombe, a University of Maine senior from Augusta and one of Cushing’s closest friends.

Coulombe told the Portland Press Herald that he spent several hours with Cushing watching TV and hanging out on Tuesday, the day before the stabbing deaths.

Others described Cushing as well-liked, with good parents and a close relationship with his half brother.

Court documents indicate there was friction between the Bolducs and Cushing because they disapproved of his plan to leave school and to visit a friend in London and go backpacking in Europe. Cushing had taken the semester off while living in Old Town.

Cushing’s friends, Coulombe, Dave Hewitt and Matthew Shinberg, said Cushing did not use drugs or show signs of depression. They also said he had not mentioned any family problems.

Shinberg said Cushing always told him he had a good relationship with his parents and his friends said he recently got the name “Joshua” tattooed on his stomach as a tribute to his little brother.

Information from: Portland Press Herald,

AP-ES-02-25-08 1656EST

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