Homeless man’s sister frustrated with system

ELLSWORTH — A homeless man whose sister says he is mentally ill and unable to care for himself was released from jail Friday on personal recognizance bail.

Claire Murphy, speaking from her Massachusetts residence on Friday, says her brother, Edward Victor Murphy, 56, suffers from bipolar disorder and has delusions of grandeur. He needs to be hospitalized, she said.

Murphy is especially worried now that winter is approaching.

“He doesn’t have the sense to come in out of the cold,” she said.

Edward Murphy had been arrested on a charge of criminal trespass on Sept. 3 in connection with an incident at the Emmaus Center — a homeless shelter.

Murphy appeared last week via video from the Hancock County Jail before Justice Michael Roberts, who asked if he needed an attorney appointed for his case. Ellsworth attorney William Ashe represented Murphy for the bail hearing as lawyer of the day.

Murphy declined having an attorney appointed for his case.

“I should be able to get my law degree by then,” Murphy told Roberts. “I do have a debit card. I do have a family of attorneys in Washington County.”

Murphy told the judge he attends the University of Denver, where he also plans to study real estate.

“Do you have any questions about his ability to proceed?” the judge asked Ashe.

“It’s a very intricate question,” Ashe replied.

Assistant District Attorney Heather Staples asked for $250 cash bail.

“He has a very old criminal history,” Staples told the judge. In June, Murphy was charged with criminal mischief and theft.

Roberts ordered Murphy not to have any contact with the Emmaus Center and to call Ashe every other week.

Murphy’s sister Claire said she has struggled to get her brother treatment because he is not homicidal or suicidal. But he is unable to care for himself, she said.

Maine does have an involuntary committal law. Someone who is involuntarily committed is often referred to as being “blue papered.”

It’s a process to admit someone to a psychiatric hospital against his or her will. This can be done by a law enforcement officer or a health-care provider. They must believe that the person in question has a mental illness and poses a likelihood of serious harm because of the illness and explain why.

District Attorney Matt Foster said, “Initially, that is up to the arresting officer to make a decision as to whether or not an arrestee needs to be evaluated by a doctor.

“Once the defendant appears at court, the defense, the court or the prosecutor can all ask for an evaluation if it appears necessary. The judge has the final say on whether or not such a request is granted.”

If a defendant is released and a mental exam is granted, that’s supposed to occur within 60 days, the prosecutor said. “If the defendant remains incarcerated, he would likely be transferred for a mental status exam much more quickly.”

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.
Jennifer Osborn

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