Three days after a jury found Randall Hofland guilty on 39 of the 40 charges he faced, that same jury began the process of deciding whether or not Hofland was criminally responsible for the acts he was convicted of committing.

Hofland was found not guilty on one charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, which involved former Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson. Hofland had been accused of pointing a gun at Danielson at a safety checkpoint Oct. 23, 2008, a charge he denied throughout the trial and sought to cast doubt upon.

He was additionally found not guilty on one charge of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, which involved a particular student who was at Stockton Springs Elementary School Oct. 31, 2008. However, the jury found Hofland guilty of a lesser offense on that charge, criminal restraint without a dangerous weapon.

As the second phase of the trial got underway Monday, Jan. 31, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm explained how the next portion of Hofland’s trial would unfold. Because the burden of proof now lies with the defense, Hjelm told jurors that unlike the criminal trial, evidence and witnesses would be presented by the defense first.

Hjlem also explained the nature of Hofland’s initial not guilty plea, noting in Hofland’s case, the defendant’s plea was two-fold because he also entered the plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

The jury need not apply that finding to the offenses Hofland was acquitted on, only those where Hofland was deemed culpable.

Hofland calls his actions ‘irrational’

In the 20 minutes the court allowed Hofland to offer his opening statements, he repeated his interest in bringing out the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

The truth, according to Hofland, is that he has been the victim of a corrupt government and court system for years, and despite his efforts to prove it, those entities have succeeded in keeping the conspiracy against Hofland under wraps.

As he did during his testimony during his criminal trial, Hofland talked about how he was treated unfairly during his divorce proceedings, which he said began when his wife filed for divorce in 2000.

Hofland said he made a motion in a New Hampshire court to vacate his divorce because he believes a guardian ad-litem had committed fraud by bribing one of his witnesses. That motion, he said, has yet to be considered by the court and is an example of the many ways his due process rights have been denied in recent years.

“I’m just not allowed to prove these things,” he said.

Hofland went on to talk about family issues, and referred jurors to the film “Mrs. Doubtfire,” which he said offers good insight into how children can be hurt by the court system.

After some additional discussion on topics ranging to his name being on a federal watch list to a brief he filed in a case concerning the Ruby Ridge shootings in 1992, he went on to address the events of Oct. 23, 2008, and Oct. 31, 2008.

‘When I went into the school I was very deliberate; I did not want to hurt anybody,” he said.

Hofland said that while the jury has since found him not guilty of pointing the gun at Danielson during an Oct. 23, 2008, traffic detail, he said the damage had already been done in terms of heightening his sense the police were after him.

“That was totally untrue, but I was already under threat,” he said. “I’m normally a rational thinker… All the police did, had pushed me over the edge.”

Hofland said overall, it is the system that is to blame for his actions.

“I really got screwed over by the system, folks, and that’s what’s happening now,” he said. “How could anybody remain sane while under assault by such a corrupt system?”

Hofland said he “reacted badly” to what he saw happening, and that he took an “irrational action” as a result of his belief the conspiracy was closing in on him. That, Hofland said, is what led him to go to the school.

“It is not a standard state of mind for me,” said Hofland. “I believed it was the right thing to do at the time.”

State discusses Hofland’s mental state

For his opening, District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau said Dr. Ann LeBlanc, director of the State Forensic Service, made a finding about Hofland’s mental state, and it does not fall under the scope of escaping criminal responsibility.

Rushlau said LeBlanc found Hofland to suffer from a delusional disorder of the persecutory type, but added Hofland has demonstrated no problems with his senses and has largely shown an inability to see people beyond how they might adversely affect him.

“If he has a problem with anything, it’s interpreting the state of mind of other people,” said Rushlau.

Rushlau said Hofland was “clearly aware” what he was doing at the school was wrong.

“Everything that he did was done with the intent to ‘make a splash.’ He knew the activity he might carry out there was wrong,” said Rushlau. “… He may have a peculiar way of looking at the world, but the defendant is not insane.”

Forensic psychologist: For Hofland, threat of conspiracy real

For much of Monday’s session, LeBlanc discussed Hofland’s mental state, which she based on a series of evaluations that Hofland underwent while at Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta through February of last year.

LeBlanc said through her work with the state forensic service, she offers courts her honest professional opinion about a defendant, and those opinions are not designed to benefit either side of a case.

“Our task is to irritate both parties equally,” said LeBlanc.

Hofland’s stand-by attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, questioned LeBlanc about her own encounters with Hofland, and what she learned about Hofland based on those encounters.

LeBlanc said Hofland shared details about his divorce, and spoke often about family matters and father’s rights issues in particular.

LeBlanc said at one point, Hofland noted pleading insanity was not part of his plan.

“He said it wasn’t his idea to plead insanity, he said it was yours,” said LeBlanc to Toothaker.

“Do crazy people know they’re crazy?” asked Toothaker.

“Rarely,” responded LeBlanc.

When Toothaker asked if LeBlanc felt the conspiracy issues actually existed in Hofland’s mind.

“I would say that Mr. Hofland believes it,” she said.

Toothaker asked LeBlanc if Hofland mentioned the name George Perkins, and LeBlanc confirmed he had. According to LeBlanc, Hofland said he resided with Perkins and told her Perkins had some mental health issues. As the relationship between Hofland and Perkins eroded, LeBlanc said Hofland told her Perkins was part of the conspiracy against him. That was because, LeBlanc said, Perkins accused Hofland of stealing from him, and police allowed Perkins to search items police seized from his storage shelters at 421 East Main St. in Searsport.

Toothaker asked LeBlanc if Hofland’s concerns about a government conspiracy came to fruition after Hofland filed a brief in a court proceeding concerning the Ruby Ridge shootings, but LeBlanc said Hofland’s issues seemed to materialize when he went through his divorce.

LeBlanc further stated Hofland tends to “interpret every day instances as evidence of this conspiracy,” and said he was “careful not to disclose information that he thought might be detrimental to his case.”

LeBlanc said Hofland believed police lied about purpose for the Oct. 23, 2008, traffic detail, and that the real aim was to check up on him and to harass him.

LeBlanc said after Hofland fled from police, he walked into the woods, where he remained for the next eight days taking shelter, finding food and “coming to recognize that people would be looking for him now.”

“He somehow had to bring it to a head,” she said. “He talked about going into the school… It was kind of ‘the time has come’ kind of thinking.”

LeBlanc said Hofland eventually decided there was no further purpose for sitting out in the woods, and that he wanted to “shine the light of day” on his own circumstances.

At one point, Hofland talked to LeBlanc about the September 2004 Beslan School hostage crisis in Chechnya, where a three-day hostage taking of more than 1,100 people resulted in the deaths of more than 380 people, some schoolchildren.

LeBlanc said Hofland referred to the event because it grabbed international attention.

“That was the level of publicity he felt he needed,” she said.

LeBlanc said Hofland’s thoughts about the conspiracy were consistent with a delusional disorder, and said a person suffering from such a disorder has ideas that “aren’t consistent with reality” and cannot be convinced otherwise.

LeBlanc said some people have delusions that, while unusual, do not adversely affect the person’s ability to function in society. LeBlanc offered herself as an example, stating that if she had the delusion that she was a ballerina, she could wear dancer’s clothing and it wouldn’t affect her life in any detrimental way.

“It wouldn’t affect my life much unless I was going to the New York City Corps de Ballet,” she said.

In that case, police would be called to have her removed, and it might affect her professional life, as well as her personal relationships, she said.

In speaking with Hofland’s relatives, LeBlanc learned Hofland has always been “rigid and inflexible in his thinking,” and that he “tends to think he’s right more often than most of us do.”

LeBlanc said that could be why Hofland has had a history of short-lived jobs throughout his adult life, and was unable to complete a program to earn a PhD.

Hofland did not meet the criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia, LeBlanc said, because he doesn’t experience hallucinations. Rather, LeBlanc said Hofland suffers from non-bizarre illusions, meaning that Hofland’s fears could actually happen.

“Let’s assume that what he believes is in fact true,” said Toothaker. “Would that force him to act in a way that he wouldn’t if he did not have that thought process?”

“Yes,” said LeBlanc.

Rushlau asked LeBlanc about comments Hofland made to her regarding the school incident, and what his intentions were. LeBlanc said Hofland’s initial plan was to “get inside the school and sit with the kids.”

“Did you tell him how his actions would be perceived?” asked Rushlau, who noted there is a difference between sitting with the children and bringing a gun inside the school to accomplish that goal.

LeBlanc said after she explained the difference to Hofland, Hofland said to her, “I was sure they would be perceived as hostages.”

When Rushlau asked LeBlanc if Hofland intended to negotiate for something once he had the children, and LeBlanc said that was true.

Rushlau also asked LeBlanc about what Hofland said about handing the gun over to a fifth-grade boy and sending him out the classroom door to police before exiting the room himself.

“This was that he, Mr. Hofland, would not come out armed,” said Rushlau.

“Exactly,” said LeBlanc.

“And his summary of the entire event is that it went pretty much the way he planned it?” asked Rushlau.

“Yes,” said LeBlanc.

When asked about Hofland’s general demeanor, LeBlanc described Hofland as one who is alert and easily engaged in conversation. She noted that Hofland smiled a lot, and characterized his smiling as demonstrating a “smug superiority.”

“He thought he knew things that I didn’t know, and that he knew the situation better than I did,” she said.

Rushlau also asked LeBlanc about a condition known as personality disorder, not otherwise classified. LeBlanc explained the diagnosis is received when a person displays characteristics of several personality disorders, such as paranoid or narcissistic personality disorders. Paranoid personality disorder, said LeBlanc, means a person can likely maintain a neat appearance and hold a job, but they generally feel most people have a hidden agenda. Those with narcissistic personality disorder, she said, carry a sense that “one is better, smarter, more knowledgeable than others” and that the “world should circulate around” them.

Without knowing background about Hofland’s perceptions he was the victim of a conspiracy, LeBlanc said she would have given him the unspecified personality disorder diagnosis, as he showed signs of both paranoia and narcissism.

Rushlau then listed off a series of acts Hofland was capable of carrying out at the time the 2008 events occurred — using information in an organized way to get his needs met, being able to take care of himself and a dog, maintaining a vehicle and locating places where Internet access was available to him.

“And he was able to assess the likely consequences of his actions?” asked Rushlau.

“Yes,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc said Hofland was “motivated by his belief that he was being persecuted, tormented,” and he was able to correctly appraise the actions he was taking.

“He’s able to use logical, organized, reality-based reasons to appraise what he was doing?” asked Rushlau.

“Exactly,” said LeBlanc.

Conspiracy theory has fuzzy beginning

Later in the day, Hofland took the stand and fielded questions from Toothaker, who labored to get Hofland to give him a direct answer in response to his inquiries about when Hofland first began to suspect he was at the center of a government conspiracy.

Hofland talked about doing graduate work at the University of Vermont, during which he was asked to go to Alabama as part of his studies. While there, Hofland said he developed a new technique he said would further his field of study. That trip caused a falling out between Hofland and his superiors in Vermont, and Hofland said he took blame instead of praise for work he felt was well done.

Toothaker encouraged Hofland to focus his answers on the questions he was being asked, but then Hofland discussed meeting his former wife and briefly revisited the topic of Ruby Ridge.

“When did you first start thinking the government was out to get you?” Toothaker pressed.

Hofland said he believes the government is watching everyone, and said his own family was subjected to wire-tapping during the 1960s, as Hofland said his father was very politically active.

After filing a brief in the 1999 Ruby Ridge case, Hofland said he began having problems with his phone service. In 2001, Hofland said the problems moved on to his Internet service. At one point, Hofland said he was able to detect a type of router the government uses to log the Internet activities of individuals.

“They were just interested in me,” said Hofland of the government, noting that the Federal Bureau of Investigations is often involved with wire-tapping and monitoring Internet activities.

“Why?” said Toothaker.

“You know, I can’t say exactly why,” responded Hofland, noting that he has often been denied requests to obtain documents pertaining to his concerns.