Man acquitted on arson, attempted murder charges

Staff Writer
Published: 12/12/2019 10:26:56 PM
Modified: 12/12/2019 10:26:45 PM

GREENFIELD — Philip Paquette-Guilette, 25, homeless of Greenfield, was found not guilty in Franklin County Superior Court on Thursday after a bench trial on charges of arson of a home and three counts of attempted murder.

Judge Jane Mulqueen made the decision on the case Thursday afternoon, stating that after she read the materials from the case, including evaluations from two different doctors, she found “the state had the burden of proof for the charges, but the state has not sustained proof of Paquette-Goulette’s criminal responsibility.”

“Based on the reports I received, the court is going to find him not guilty by reason of mental illness,” Mulqueen said.

According to Greenfield Police, a fire was reported March 27, 2018, at around 3 a.m., on the exterior of a house on Bouker Street, near two 120-gallon propane tanks. The fire damaged the vinyl siding, plywood sheathing and sub-framing of the house. Three residents were inside the house at the time of the fire.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew Thomas said the state motioned for Paquette-Goulette to be admitted to Bridgewater State Hospital for observation and treatment.

“Both experts that analyzed Mr. Paquette-Goulette extensively recommend hospitalization at a secure facility,” Thomas said. “Particularly troubling is that in (one) analysis, she said as recently as May, he was experiencing auditory hallucinations by one of the persons he was working with. As we learned from the case, certainly one of the exhibits, it was these control-oriented auditory hallucinations that gave rise to his behavior.”

He said Paquette-Goulette believed that if he set fire to the house, “getting an act of revenge to the wrong he was imagining as part of his imaginary girlfriend, that DIAL/SELF, one of the agencies he was working with, would take him in and give him services he felt he needed.”

Thomas said such experiences didn’t mitigate the troublesome aspects of Paquette-Goulette’s behavior.

“It’s a big risk to let him out and about and hope for the best,” Thomas said. “It’s a risk the commonwealth isn’t willing to take.”

Attorney Nora Allard, who represented Paquette-Guilette, asked that her defendant be evaluated on an out-patient basis, stating he had been out in the community since being released on bail.

“My only suggestion is that he goes as an out-patient,” Allard said. “As of mid-June, he’s been out in the community. He has a job, he has a place to live.”

Judge Mulqueen agreed with Thomas that Paquette-Goulette should be hospitalized for observation and examination.

On Wednesday during the bench trial, Thomas brought forward four witnesses — two Greenfield police officers, a state trooper and an employee from Clinical & Support Options (CSO) of Greenfield.

Greenfield Police Detective John Clark said he arrived on scene to the March 27, 2018 incident at around 4 a.m.

“The west side of the house had extensive burning in the area of two propane tanks,” Clark said. “The fire had gone up the side of the house, and there was significant damage to the side of the house and the propane tanks.”

Massachusetts State Trooper Marc Reidy also took the stand. In addition to his fire investigation responsibilities with the Fire Marshal’s Office, Reidy is an accelerant K-9 handler. The dog assigned to him is a 5-year-old black Labrador, named Star, who’s trained to locate accelerant.

“I was concerned about what started the fire,” Reidy said. “There were no heat sources that could cause a fire. There were no accidental heat sources outside that home such as electrical or smoking, something of that nature. I didn’t find anything consistent with that, but shortly thereafter, doing my initial assessment I detected an odor of gasoline in the area, so we had her deploy to the side of the house.”

After a cap, pieces of a blanket and the remnants of a plastic bottle were located by K-9 Star, Reidy submitted them to the State Police crime lab for analysis, which came back positive for gasoline residue.

Allard argued that Paquette-Goulette committed the crimes, but “was not criminally responsible.”

Reach Melina Bourdeau at 413-772-0261, ext. 263 or


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