Argued: May 10, 2017
Valerie A. Randall, Esq. (orally), and Patrick H. Gordon,
Esq., Fairfield & Associates, P.A., Portland, for
appellant Thomas A. Proia
Kathryn L. Slattery, District Attorney, and Shira S. Burns,
Asst. Dist. Atty. (orally), Prosecutorial District 1, Alfred,
for appellee State of Maine
SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and
Thomas A. Proia appeals from a judgment entered in the trial
court (York County, Douglas, J.) after a jury-waived
trial, convicting him of a number of charges, including
crimes of violence, arising from an incident where he engaged
in conduct while affected by a distorted view of reality.
Proia contends that the court erred in its application of the
statutory principle of abnormal condition of the mind,
see 17-A M.R.S. § 38 (2016), and that the
evidence was insufficient for the court to find beyond a
reasonable doubt that he acted with the culpable states of
mind necessary to commit the crimes for which he was
convicted. Finding no error, we affirm the judgment.
The following facts found by the court bear on the issues
relevant to this appeal and are supported by the evidence.
See State v. Jones, 2012 ME 88, ¶6, 46A.3d1125.
On October 19, 2015, while running an errand, Proia developed
increasingly paranoid and delusional beliefs that he was
being followed and was in danger. He returned to his
residence, where another family member was present, and he
retrieved two assault rifles from the attic. He gave one
firearm to the family member, kept the other, and proceeded
to fire approximately thirty rounds in various directions
from both inside and outside the home. When he left the house
to search in the nearby woods for "demons" that he
thought he may have shot, the family member remained inside
and, after retreating to an upstairs bathroom, called 9-1-1.
Still in an agitated state, Proia returned to the house,
entered the bathroom without the firearm, and told the family
member that they were both being threatened by people
outside. The 9-1-1 call was terminated at some point, but a
dispatcher called back when Proia was lying on top of the
family member in the bathroom, ostensibly as protection from
the perceived threat. The recording of the return call from
the dispatcher captured the sounds of a struggle and of Proia
yelling as he prepared to commit sexual assault on the family
member. The family member was able to escape by running
outside and was eventually taken to safety by a responding
Proia then went to a neighbors property, where he and the
occupants of the neighbors house saw each other through a
window. Proia threw a rock through the window, resulting in a
laceration to the chest and shoulder of one of the residents.
Another neighbor called the police because Proia had also
broken one of the windows in that neighbors house. Police
arrived at the scene and ordered Proia to the ground, but he
did not comply. Officers twice used a Taser in an attempt to
subdue Proia. Even then and after being handcuffed, Proia
continued to struggle. He was speaking rapidly and had a
frothy substance around his mouth. The officers took Proia to
a hospital, where he remained agitated until he was sedated.
After being charged initially by complaint, Proia was
indicted for the ten counts described below and pleaded not
guilty to all charges. At a two-day bench trial held in
August 2016, the evidence included the testimony of two
expert psychological witnesses presented by Proia and Proias
own testimony. Proia did not plead not guilty by reason of
insanity, see 17-A M.R.S. § 39 (2016), but
instead challenged the States proof of his mens rea. At the
conclusion of the trial, the court made extensive oral
findings of fact and found Proia guilty of seven of the ten
charges: domestic violence reckless conduct with a dangerous
weapon, namely, a firearm, (Class C), 17-A M.R.S.
§§211-A(1)(A), 1252(4) (2016); aggravated assault
(Class B), 17-A M.R.S. §208(1)(B) (2016); two counts of
attempted gross sexual assault (Class B), 17-A M.R.S.
§§152(1)(B), 253(1)(B) (2016); domestic violence
assault (Class D), 17-AM.R.S. § 207-A(1)(A) (2016);
endangering the welfare of a child (Class D), 17-A M.R.S.
§§ 554(1)(C), 1201(1)(A-1)(2) (2016); and criminal
mischief (Class D), 17-A M.R.S. §806(1)(A) (2016). For
reasons unrelated to Proias state of mind, the court
acquitted Proia of the remaining three charges: reckless
conduct with the use of a dangerous weapon (Class C), 17-A
M.R.S. §§211(1), 1252(4) (2016); unlawful
trafficking in scheduled drugs (Class C), 17-A M.R.S. §
1103(1-A)(E) (2016); and refusing to submit to arrest (Class
D), 17-A M.R.S. § 751-B(1)(B) (2016).
In its findings, the court stated that "[t]here is
clearly evidence in this case that is relevant to the defense
of abnormal condition of the mind ... including [Proias]
extreme anxiety, paranoia, delusions, agitated speech, [and]
so forth, [which] reflect that he was experiencing some sort
of agitated condition and a distorted perception of
reality." Framing the legal issue, the court stated that
even though an individual may be operating under an impaired
or altered perception of reality or other irrational mode of
thinking at the time of an incident, the question is whether
that condition, the abnormal condition of the mind, the
mental disease or defect, however its termed, whether that
condition negated, prevented the formation of the required
culpable state of mind, and it is the States obligation to
prove beyond a reasonable ...