D-H Shooter May Rely on Insanity Plea

  • Travis Frink, of Warwick, Rhode Island, stands with his attorney, Public Defender Rebecca McKinnon, during his arraignment in Grafton County Superior Court in North Haverhill, N.H., on Sept. 13, 2017. (AP Photo/Valley News, Jennifer Hauck)

Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

North Haverhill — A 49-year-old Rhode Island man accused of killing his mother in her hospital bed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center last September may rely on an insanity defense.

Travis Frink, of Warwick, R.I., gave statements to police after the shooting that led his defense team to believe that his actions were the result of a “mental illness or defect,” according to a document filed in Grafton Superior Court in North Haverhill earlier this year.

Frink is accused of killing Pamela Ferriere, 70, of Groton, N.H., on Sept. 12, 2017. He has pleaded not guilty.

Public defenders Martha Ann Hornick and Caroline Smith wrote in a two-page notice in March that Frink’s comments to police involve a “delusional belief” that he was taken from the womb of his birth mother, who wasn’t Ferriere, and became a subject of a “bizarre and sadistic scientific experiment.”

Frink contends Ferriere was one of the scientists behind the experiment, that several children died and that after the experiment concluded, Ferriere took him home to be raised as her child and had a chip put in his brain, the notice states.

“It appears that his actions were a product of those delusional beliefs, the delusional belief being a symptom of his mental illness or defect,” Hornick wrote.

In addition, Frink told police he hadn’t been taking any medication and had not slept for a “long period of time” prior to the shooting, according to the notice.

He has been hospitalized in the past and his diagnoses include bi-polar disorder, with severe psychotic features, as well as schizoaffective disorder, the notice says.

Frink stands charged with first- and second-degree murder. The events of Sept. 12 began to unfold after Frink drove to the hospital from Rhode Island, signed into the visitor’s desk and went to the fourth-floor intensive care unit, where his mother had been receiving treatment for an aneurysm, according to a court affidavit. She was scheduled to be released in the coming days.

Frink’s stepfather Robert Ferriere, who was present during the shooting, told police that upon arriving at the room, Frink asked for some time alone with his mother. Pamela Ferriere agreed and shortly thereafter, Robert Ferriere heard a shout and he told police he saw Frink point a gun at Pamela Ferriere and fire several shots.

Frink was arrested that day.

He is being held without bail at the Grafton County Jail in North Haverhill.

Associate Attorney General Jeffrey Strelzin, who is prosecuting the case, said he had no comment on the notice.

Reached by phone, Hornick said she has stepped down from the case. Hornick, who has been the managing attorney for the Littleton office of the New Hampshire Public Defender Program, is running to become the Grafton County Attorney, so she has recused herself from her Grafton County caseload.

Public Defender Caroline Smith, who also is on the case, didn’t return messages left for her.

Shortly after the shooting, Frink’s stepfather and Bob Ferriere told the Associated Press that Frink has a long history of erratic and violent behavior, something he blamed on post-traumatic stress disorder from his time in the military.

Ferriere said Frink struggled for the past decade with PTSD after he returned from the military with a traumatic brain injury.

Frink’s behavior worsened when he wasn’t on his medication, his stepfather said.

Several other documents in Frink’s court file are sealed.

He is slated to appear next in the North Haverhill courthouse on Nov. 15 for a pretrial hearing.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.