LEWISTON — An Auburn man charged with the attempted murder of his then-girlfriend in a July stabbing entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Eric Griffey, 44, of 27 Clover Lane, was charged with two counts of attempted murder and other related felonies.

His attorney, James Howaniec, filed a letter with the Androscoggin County District Attorney’s Office giving notice that Griffey intended to enter an insanity plea, which he did Monday in 8th District Court.

Howaniec asked for a single trial, rather than two to address issues of guilt and insanity.

According to state law, an insanity plea is an affirmative defense. That means that if Griffey had opted to split the trial into two phases, the first stage of the trial would have allowed evidence only of Griffey’s guilt or innocence of the charges. If he were to be convicted of any of those charges, the second stage of his trial would have allowed evidence regarding his mental state at the time of the incident and whether he, as a result of mental disease or defect, lacked the mental capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his criminal conduct.

Howaniec said he planned to introduce evidence of Griffey’s mental state at the time of the incident during a single-phase of his trial. There would be no second phase.

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Howaniec wrote that he also would expect to raise the issue of “abnormal condition of mind” during Griffey’s trial in an effort to cast doubt that Griffey had the mental state necessary to realize he was committing a crime at the time of the incident.

If Griffey were found at trial to be not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, the charges would be dropped, but he would be committed to the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services.

If he were found not guilty at trial due to evidence of an “abnormal condition of mind,” the charges against Griffey would be dropped and he would be set free.

Griffey is being held at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn in lieu of $250,000 cash bail.

Police said Griffey repeatedly stabbed his then-girlfriend with a kitchen knife inside their apartment, then outside.

Neighbors said they heard him yell, “I’m going to kill you, b****.”

They pulled him off of woman and disarmed him before police arrived, witnesses said.

A trial is scheduled for February.

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