PARIS — The arraignment for a Peru man accused of killing his mother-in-law has been continued until later this month to give time for a mental health examination. 

Paul Orchard, 33, was admitted to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta in early December for a mental examination by the State Forensic Service, according to his defense attorney, Sarah Glynn. 

On Tuesday, his case in Oxford County Superior Court was continued until Jan. 30 for the results to be reviewed, which likely will determine if he is mentally competent to stand trial. He has not entered a plea. 

Orchard is charged with one count of depraved indifference murder and one count of felony murder in the sexual assault and strangulation death of Paula Nuttall, 57, who died at their home on Main Street on Oct. 11.

Bail was set at $100,000 for a single count of felony murder. Orchard is waiting for a bail hearing on the charge of depraved indifference murder. It was not known when that hearing will take place. 

If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison. 

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According to court documents filed by Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, Orchard previously was treated for a mental illness and the circumstances of the case suggest those may persist. 

According to a police affidavit, Orchard’s 6-year-old daughter was playing outside when she heard Orchard and Nuttall, her grandmother, arguing. She went inside and found him beating Nuttall, who told her granddaughter to hit him with a bottle, which she did, but the attack continued.

When police arrived, the girl met them on the porch and asked them to help her grandmother.

According to an affidavit by Detective Michael Chavez of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit, Lt. Daniel Carrier of the Mexico Police Department found Orchard on top of Nuttall in the home, and when Orchard did not get off the woman as ordered, he was removed and handcuffed. 

Emergency responders pronounced Nuttall dead moments later.

An autopsy determined Nuttall died of cardiac arrest during strangulation and sexual assault, according to a police affidavit.

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Orchard was covered in polyurethane and transported to the hospital on the suspicion he may have consumed it,, police said. 

According to the affidavit, Orchard told his mother, Margaret Rosher, during a phone call from the hospital, “It was like a vapor high or somethin’ when I was doin’ the floor over.” He said he didn’t remember attacking Nuttall.

“I was high, it was an accident. It was a vapor, I didn’t have a mask on,” he said, according to the affidavit.

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