Acquitted Wife-Killer Asks For Smart Phone, Later Curfew, Freedom To Travel In State

David Messenger, acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1998 beating death of his pregnant wife in their Chaplin home, has progressed so far in his treatment that he should be allowed to travel anywhere in the state except Windham County, have a smart phone, and stay out until midnight on weekends.

That was the testimony Friday of a forensic psychologist and the supervisor of Messenger’s release in the community at a hearing before the Psychiatry Security Review Board.

Messenger had asked for the phone, a later curfew, and the ability to travel beyond Hartford County. Initially committed in 2001, Messenger has been living in a supervised apartment and receiving treatment at a regional mental-health center in Hartford since 2015, with no violations, according to testimony.

Assistant States Attorney Andrew Slitt, who works out of the Windham office, peppered psychologist Fred Storey and release-manager Archer Bridgeforth with questions about whether a further expansion of Messenger’s freedoms would heighten the risk to the public. Both said it would not.

The Psychiatric Security Review Board, which supervises 150 people who were acquitted of crimes by reason of mental disease or defect, will vote on this new request by Aug. 25.

Ellen Lachance, who supervises the staff that supports the board, said it’s common for community mental-health teams to ask for additional privileges for patients who are responding well to treatment — in part so they can gauge how the person will do when he or she is no longer under any supervision.

In the early years of his commitment, Messenger was confined in the maximum security Whiting Forensic Division at Connecticut Valley Hospital. He has steadily gained freedom — which has been unsettling to the family of Heather Messenger, who was 42 when Messenger beat her to death with a fireplace poker. The couple’s son, then 5, witnessed the attack on his mother.

“We don’t think a killer deserves…

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