Florence man committed to psychiatric facility after trial on assault, arson charges
NORTHAMPTON — Moments after David A. Doyle was found not guilty of assault and arson charges by reason of mental illness, he got to meet his 6-week-old granddaughter for the first time.
And moments after that, he was committed to Bridgewater State Hospital for observation and evaluation. Doyle, 62, of 491 Bridge Road, Florence, had pleaded not guilty to charges of assault with intent to murder, arson of a dwelling, kidnapping and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. His jury-waived trial Wednesday was presided over by Hampshire Superior Court Judge Richard Carey.
During the brief trial, Doyle and defense attorney Jonah Goldsmith of the Committee for Public Counsel Services admitted to the facts of the case presented to the grand jury last year.
However, Goldsmith presented mitigating evidence of Doyle’s mental illness gleaned from a series of psychological evaluations.
Goldsmith said the reports contained “more than enough” evidence to doubt Doyle’s criminal responsibility during an “unprovoked, unmotivated attack” on his wife July 17, 2012.
Goldsmith said Doyle’s mental health had been declining in the months leading up to the attack and characterized it as a “failed suicide attempt.” About 2 a.m. on the morning of the incident, police were summoned to Doyle’s apartment by a woman reporting that her husband was attacking her. The woman told police she awoke to find Doyle trying to set a bedroom carpet on fire. The woman said Doyle tried to prevent her from leaving the apartment by blocking the door, trapping her inside with the flames.
When she forced the door open and left the room, Doyle stabbed her in the stomach with a 4- to 5-inch steak knife. Before he was taken to Bridgewater, the condition that he remain away from his family was lifted at their request so he could have a few minutes to visit with relatives present, including his wife and infant granddaughter. Doyle is due back in court on Aug. 19 for an update on his status following a 40-day evaluation period at the hospital.
Bob Dunn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.