“North Pond Hermit” Pleads Not Guilty To Burglary & Theft; Attorneys Say Deal Is In The Works
Christopher Knight, the man known as the “North Pond Hermit”, appeared in court Tuesday morning in Augusta.Knight pleaded not guilty to seven burglary and six theft charges, but both the District Attorney and the defense attorney said a deal to resolve the case is nearing.Knight had a thick beard and looked noticeably thinner as he was led into court. He spoke only to say the words “not guilty” to all 13 charges stemming from burglaries at the Pine Tree Camp in Rome and various camps in that area.Knight told police in April at the time of his arrest that he committed around 1,000 burglaries during his nearly three decades living in the woods. But the statute of limitations has run out on most of his alleged crimes.In court, defense attorney Walter McKee asked for and was granted permission to see if Knight is eligible for the Maine Pretrial Program, a program that allows people in jail awaiting trial to be released even though they don’t have money for bail.District Attorney Maeghan Maloney did not object to him being evaluated for the program but said she would make a determination on whether or not to oppose the idea after she reads the evaluation. The thought of allowing a man who lived undetected in the woods for 27 years out on bail is a concern she said.When it comes to a sentence for Knight, Maloney said she’s working with the victims to find a sentence that suits everyone, but that’s proving to be a tough task.”I know I can’t make all of them happy,” she said. “Because there are some who think no jail is appropriate. There are some who think life in prison is appropriate. So because it’s such a range that’s not going to be possible. What is possibly is for me to be willing to listen.”Maloney also wants to come up with a sentence that gives Knight the best chance to succeed after he pays for his crimes.”This is why I think we would be doing him a disservice if all we did was agree to a period of time of incarceration and then turned the key and said okay bye. I think that we need to look at helping him pull a life together for himself,” Maloney said.McKee told reporters outside the courtroom that Knight was actually considering pleading guilty at his court appearance. McKee said Knight has undergone a mental health evaluation but would not divulge the results except to say there are significant issues that could ultimately play a part in his sentence.”He has always 100 percent completely accepted responsibility for what he did. He’s prepared to do that and it’s awkward in a format like this to be saying not guilty,” McKee said.McKee says he just wants Knight, who has already served four months in jail, treated fairly and doesn’t want the case to be prolonged anymore then it already has. “He’s in a situation where he should be getting time served. I mean there are many defendants who will sit up there and plead guilty to burglary charges that will be released or sentenced to time served of 3,4,5 or 6 months. Why isn’t bail appropriate in this case here? Because he should be treated no worse or better than anyone else.”Both Maloney and McKee sound confident that a deal is imminent which means Christopher Knight could be released from jail in the very near future. McKee said he expects a resolution to the case within the next month or two. Which begs the question, where does the “North Pond Hermit” go when he’s released?”We’ve always said what is the end game for somebody who has lived 27 years by themselves in the woods,” McKee said. “And that’s something that everybody has been talking about since day one in the case. And really is the complicating factor as to why we can’t resolve it immediately and have it all done today.”Maloney said there’s roughly $1,000 that has been donated to Knight by members of the public. At Knight’s request that money has been put into an account and will be used to reimburse the victims he stole from.