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Eight years after 'heinous' crime, experts say man poses 'very little cause for concern'

Leroy Smith III was found not criminally responsible for manslaughter in 2014 after killing and dismembering his father in Gardiner.

AUGUSTA, Maine — Editor's note: The video attached to this story was published Sept. 12, 2017. 

Leroy Smith III listened quietly Friday afternoon in a Maine courtroom as lawyers and medical experts discussed how much freedom he should or shouldn't have. They opted to start with a half-hour of unsupervised time each day to start -- enough time, the director of the state forensic service said, to walk across the street from his group home and buy a bottle of shampoo.

Smith, along with Superior Court Justice Bruce C. Mallonee, smiled as Smith rubbed his shaved head. 

"Well, maybe not shampoo," psychologist Ann LeBlanc, director of the state forensic service, said. "Sorry, Mr. Smith."

The exchange was dramatically different than several between Smith and other medical experts in 2014 when Smith was arrested after killing and dismembering his father, 56-year-old Leroy Smith II, in their Gardiner apartment.

Police found his father's remains in nine trash bags in a wooded area off a rural road in nearby Richmond.

RELATED: Court papers reveal disturbing details in Gardiner murder

After a psychiatric evaluation was ordered, a state forensic expert testified in January 2015 that Leroy Smith III believed he needed to kill his father because he was convinced his father was poisoning him. Smith was later the first person in Maine involuntarily medicated under a new law to see if he would become competent to stand trial.

Despite treatment with antipsychotic drugs, he was found not criminally responsible of manslaughter in September 2017. Smith was placed in the custody of the commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and committed to Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Now 32, Smith has lived in a supervised group home and allowed up to six hours a day with a 1:3 supervision ratio, case manager Carmen Wright said.

She said Smith likes yoga, weight lifting, and fishing with peers and staff.

Dr. Daniel Filene, director of Riverview's Outpatient Psychiatry Services, said Smith has been "quite stable, very cooperative, and caused very little cause for concern." He said Smith has been cooperative with the medication he has been prescribed, including two antipsychotics and a mood stabilizer.

Filene said Smith's delusional disorder is "in partial remission, in large part due to medication."

LeBlanc, of the state forensic service, said it took three years of medication for Smith's delusions to partially subside, in part because he wasn't agreeable to medication and in part because of the complexity of the delusions.

"I don't believe his delusions have completely subsided, but they are much farther in the background of Mr. Smith's thinking," she said. "I would say that Mr. Smith's insight into the role of mental illness in the killing of his father is impaired. It's not absent, but there's far from a complete understanding."

"Not only have his active delusions faded into the background, his interpersonal [demeanor] has relaxed and his intelligence has shown through," LeBlanc said. "Mr. Smith has been clear that the medications have improved his ability to be clear, to express himself ... He does have some insight into how they address his thinking and his ability to be organized."

"This is a young man who is likely to be in the custody of the commissioner for many years," LeBlanc said, endorsing his "getting a toe in" the workforce.

Assistant Attorney General Laura Yustak said she was concerned Smith would go from no unsupervised time for the eight years since Smith arrived at Riverview to the proposed four hours a day, but LeBlanc and Filene suggested starting with 15 minutes or a half-hour per day and working from there.

"I'm leery of unstructured, unsupervised time given the heinous nature of the underlying crime and that he has been under such close supervision for such a long period of time," Yustak said.

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