Auburn woman enters insanity defense in October shooting

LEWISTON — A local woman, charged with attempted murder after a shooting behind Roopers Beverage in Auburn last October, said Friday that she wasn’t criminally responsible “by reason of insanity.”

Kachina Swasey Androscoggin County Jail

In April, Kachina Swasey, 25, of 316 Court St. pleaded not guilty to the charge in 8th District Court.

Her attorney, James Howaniec, told Justice Valerie Stanfill he recently received a report from a forensic psychologist.

“She’s got some major, major psychiatric issues,” Howaniec said.

“We want to continue to develop the possible psychiatric defenses,” Howaniec said. The forensic psychologist “issued a very lengthy report that corroborates a lot of her mental health issues, but still leaves open whether she was acting with criminal responsibility,” Howaniec said.

“We also have an intoxication component to it, which may be a defense on some of the charges but not others. And so we want to flesh out all of the possible defenses, including abnormal condition of mind, in addition to insanity,” he said.

He said some witnesses would support the notion that Swasey had acted in self-defense.

Although the prosecutor in the case has made an offer to Swasey for a plea to resolve the case without going to trial, Howaniec said, “we’re still pretty far apart.”

Stanfill ordered the psychologist’s report to be shared with the prosecutor.

Each of the charges of attempted murder and elevated aggravated assault carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

Two charges of aggravated assault are each punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

If convicted, Swasey faces up to five years in prison on each of four felonies, including reckless conduct with a firearm and three counts of assault of an officer.

The remaining charges include two counts of assault and three counts of violation of condition of release, all misdemeanors.

Swasey has been held at Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn since her arrest on those charges Oct. 4, 2020, with high bail.

Police said that on that date, shortly after 5:30 p.m., officers responded to a reported shooting behind Roopers Beverage on Main Street in Auburn.

Officers found a 38-year-old woman who’d been shot in the face with a .22-caliber handgun before several witnesses who had detained the alleged shooter.

The victim, who was conscious and alert, identified Swasey as her assailant, police said.

Witnesses said the shooting came after a brief “physical altercation” between the two women.

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