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North Pond Hermit Pleads Guilty, Admitted to Special Program
10/28/2013   Reported By: Patty B. Wight

Christopher Knight lived alone in the woods of Central Maine for 27 years, surviving by stealing food and supplies from camps at North Pond, near Waterville. He became part of the local folklore, with some estimates that he burglarized about 1,000 times over the years.

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Christopher KnightHe was finally caught last April on a surveillance camera and has been incarcerated ever since. He appeared in court Monday, visibly thinner, alongside his defense attorney Walt McKee, who said it's unclear how well Knight is acclimating into society.

"Chris is - by his very nature - a very close-lipped person," McKee said. "If there's anything we know about him is that over 27 years he's not been one to talk a lot or interact a lot with people. So I think it's difficult to tell. I think he's doing fairly well, but I guess it remains to be seen."

Knight pleaded guilty to seven counts of burglary and six counts of theft. In exchange, he was admitted to the Co-occurring Disorders Court, a special program that allows those who have committed crimes and have mental and substance abuse issues to reside and receive treatment in the community. Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney.

"We want him to be successful," said Somerset County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney. "we want him to have a successful reintegration into the community, and I was not convinced that if he went to state prison that that would have been possible."

It'S unclear at this point what kind of housing Knight will have. In addition to receiving treatment, Knight will need to work, do community service, or attend school. He'll attend weekly meetings at the court house with Justice Nancy Mills, lawyers, and a case manager to track his progress. Knight will also participate in a restorative justice conference with some of the victims of his crimes. Margaret Micolichek will facilitate the meeting.

"A lot of them feeling really frightened by the fact that that someone was consistently coming in to their homes and in to their camps," Micolichek said. "So they'll have the opportunity to hear from Chris, and he'll have the opportunity to hear from them. And hopefully be able to heal that community and have that community to begin to feel safe again."

Knight is currently serving a seven-month sentence. If he successfully completes the Co-Occurring Disorders Court program, that will be the only jail time he will serve. If he fails the program, he faces up to seven years in prison.

His defense attorney, Walt McKee, said the special program is fitting for Knight, given the circumstances of his crimes. "This was a unique situation with a unique individual. But for that, he would just be in jail just like everybody else, and I think we can all agree that he's not like everybody else."

It will likely take Knight at least a year to successfully complete the special court program.

Photo by Patty Wight.


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