'Extremely rare' plea in Sandy murder has family calling for changes for mentally ill

Man who killed elderly woman with golf club declared not guilty by reason of insanity

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  • Mormonmama0106 Phoenix, AZ
    June 9, 2014 2:50 p.m.

    "If evaluators determine at some point that he is no longer mentally ill and no longer a danger, he will be freed."

    I have bipolar disorder and I know that "no longer mentally ill" does not happen for us. It is a mental condition caused by a physical disorder in the brain. It cannot be cured, only controlled. I will fight it for the rest of my life. If this man is released, how will they ensure that he always takes his medication? Obviously that didn't work before, as he has a history of stopping his meds.

    Luckily I have a very mild form and do not need medication, which is good because when I lost my job and health insurance a few years ago I couldn't even get state coverage, even though I had a diagnosis of "mental illness". If I'd needed medication to manage my condition I would have just been out of luck. I can't speak for all states, but I know that the state of mental health care in Arizona and apparently Utah is just shameful.

  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    May 13, 2014 5:11 p.m.

    Sending him to get treatment for the rest of his life is one thing. Sending him to get treatment for a month or a year or even five years is not enough. It isn't about punishing him for killing somebody. It is about protecting him from hurting others. Unless somebody can prove that he is controlled, he needs to be isolated from society. Unfortunately, many people with bipolar condition are faithful at taking their medicine until they think they are "cured". Then nobody is there preventing them from going off into psychotic behavior. Others are busy praying to be cured by a miracle without accepting that modern day medications are indeed a miracle.

    I often wonder why it is not possible to use a breathalizer device and a GPS tracking device to monitor people with bipolar disorders. E.g., if a simple breath device does not show that they are properly medicated, they are not allowed to leave a facility. If they leave a specific geographic area or are not back at their prescribed facility by a specific time, an alarm is triggered and they are located.

  • DrAnnBlakeTracy Henderson, NV
    May 13, 2014 2:37 p.m.

    How can you hold someone accountable for actions they committed in an unconscious state? What did Christ say of those taking His life as he hung on the cross? "Forgive them." Why? "They know not what they do." Most remember their actions as a dream/nightmare because that is what it is - a medication-induced nightmare. For 60 plus years scientists have known that increasing serotonin can produce LSD flashbacks, schizophrenia, mania/Bipolar, violent crime, violent suicide, etc.

    In 2000 Dr. Malcomb Bowers from Yale found that approximately 8% - 10% of those hospitalized for a psychotic break were antidepressant-induced episodes. They went on to say that most doctors miss this toxic reaction to medication and label the patient as Bipolar instead. When the first SSRI antidepressant, Prozac, was introduced many psychiatrists refused to prescribe it because of its potential to trigger Bipolar. This is easy to see when you look at the time period from 1996 - 2004 while the use of antidepressants skyrocketed, the diagnosis of Bipolar increased by 4000%!

    I would take bets that in checking this man's history you will most likely find that he was never diagnosed as Bipolar before taking an antidepressant.

  • DrAnnBlakeTracy Henderson, NV
    May 13, 2014 2:13 p.m.

    After testifying as an expert witness in these cases since 1992 I would say if the insanity defense is rare, it should be common. Due to lack of information most attorneys and doctors miss it. To watch the society's attitude as this "medication"-induced serotonin nightmare unfolds is alarming. Obviously we need to discuss this on the radio show I am doing tonight in SLC.

    The majority of drugs given to the mentally ill are known to cause violence both during the use of the drug AND in abrupt withdrawal from the drug. REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) has always been known as a drug withdrawal state yet now we know that 86% of those suffering RBD are currently taking antidepressants. Previously rare, RBD is a sleepwalk state in which the person acts out nightmares in an unconscious or semi-conscious state. Brain waves of someone on an antidepressant demonstrate a total anesthetic sleep state and dreaming while appearing alert and functioning.

    Blood tests for toxicity, created for alcohol abuse, need to be replace with brain wave patterns for these mind altering drugs in order to see the level of consciousness at the time of the crime.

  • Noam Provo, UT
    May 13, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    A small paradigm shift would be to render the judgment of GUILTY by reason of insanity. And then to begin to address the ramifications of that.

  • bbc SLC, UT
    May 13, 2014 12:17 p.m.

    "Plus, her husband kept his weapons and still had a concealed carry permit." WHAT??!! So someone with a diagnosed mental illness gets a concealed carry permit and weapons??? Wake up, Utah!!!

  • DGDENTON Gainesville, TX
    May 13, 2014 11:53 a.m.

    The purpose of the justice system is neither revenge or rehabilitation. It is designed to protect the lawful citizens who have every expectation that they are safe and secure from predators. Those who have committed a crime should be in a facility whether it is prison or a hospital until society is reasonably sure the law breaker is no longer a threat. When we closed down the mental health facilities in the 1970's we failed to establish a path for caring for the mentally ill. The prevailing thought among profesionals was that they could be integrated into society when heavily medicated. Mainstreaming is a failure. It is shameful that we don't place the mentally ill in hospitals where they can get the treatment they need. We care more for the rights of the mentally ill than we do for the safety of our families.

  • quickmatch Oak Park, IL
    May 13, 2014 11:24 a.m.

    Mental illness is a terrible affliction--it attacks the heart and soul of our humanity: our mind; that which makes you, you and me, me. When there's a makfunction, we barely know whatto do, and when the malfunction results in bodly harm, even death to another we are truly at a loss. Do we imprison the offender forever, though not in control of his or her actions? What id medication has controlled the illness? What if the medications are abandoned, as they are likely to be if released? Who, then, protects the public?

    We are able to send spacecraft to Saturn to return knowledge of that body and its satellites and rings. We know more of Saturn than of the human mind--truly our final frontier. Let's get on with the exploration of the mind!

  • One opinion west jordan, UT
    May 13, 2014 11:12 a.m.

    When people commit horrible crimes like this they should be punished just like anyone else. Yes, I am sorry that they cannot function normally, but why expose others to their criminal acts? Mental illness is used to excuse too many violent crimes. Mental hospitals can be a dangerous place to work and often staff or other non-violent patients are exposed to abuse. There are many kinds of mental illnesses, but the persons with mental illness that hurt other people need to be dealt with differently. There needs to be part of the prisons where they are locked up and confined. I read reports over and over where individuals refuse to take their medications on a regular basis - that should be their right, but when violence is a result, they need to be contained in cells just like anyone else.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 11:12 a.m.

    If one is deemed sane and commits a crime, they must pay the price. Justice, retaliation, vengeance, retribution? Take your choice. If one is mentally incompetent, society must be protected from their "uncontrolled" behavior. Either way, society is the underlying entity to be considered and protected.

  • Hey It's Me Salt Lake City, UT
    May 13, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    There are plenty of meds to help these people, because talking it out with a mentally ill person doesn't work. There is something short circuited in their head. The problem is how do we or their families make sure they take their meds. You can't force and person to do that. When they first take their meds they feel great and so they think they don't need them anymore. Since he chose to not take them when he knows he needs them, he should be held somewhere for a long time. If I were his wife and family, I would be fearful for when he comes home.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    May 13, 2014 9:54 a.m.

    To protect society for the rest of his life. Mandatory oversight of daily medical treatment/medications must be part of his sentencing. Without this stipulation he could change his mind after release, if he is ever released.
    Many mentally ill feel OK and just stop taking their anti-psychotic meds only to end up back in forced treatment at a mental hospital. Those citizens, that I know of, did not commit murder.

  • 100%TruePAtriot cincinnati, OH
    May 13, 2014 9:43 a.m.

    History Freak

    I read up on the shock therapy. It is a hit or miss treatment. It worls for some problems but not others.

    Lasers may be a better choice. They can target specific overactive portions of the brain and permanently neutralize them.

    Other methods can include targeted radio frequency destruction of brain areas.

    It seems to me that we should reinstitute the mental hospitals for long term and permanently mentally ill people.

    An interesting correlation between the 1980's to now regarding the increase in mentally ill committing crimes.

    I call that a 'patient zero' policy because zero patients can get the proper help they need because of cost cutting.

  • 100%TruePAtriot cincinnati, OH
    May 13, 2014 9:31 a.m.

    including one in 2012 when Angela Cuillard said he roamed their Sandy neighborhood with a loaded gun.

    He has every legal right to roam anywhere just as you do. Carrying a loaded gun is a constitutional right. I see no problems there.

    Now, if he indeed had a verifiable 'dangerous' mental illness, why was he not indefinitely locked up in the hospital instead of mingling with the rest of society?

    Prudence would indicate that if you had a viscious dog, you keep the dog under lock and key.

    Why then can't we do the same for dangerous individuals?

    If you let a viscious dog (or dangerous mentally ill person) loose amongst society, you can expect that something bad will eventually happen.

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so to speak.

  • Western Rover Herriman, UT
    May 13, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    DrGroovey, did you not understand Angela C's fear, or are you intentionally misconstruing it as some savage desire for revenge? She does not want her husband confined because she wants him to suffer. She wants him confined so he can't hurt anyone else. This is a legitimate concern even if Kevin C does not understand his actions are wrong; indeed, it is a greater concern.

    May 13, 2014 8:04 a.m.

    Here is a different way to think of mental illness -

    If I told you that if you did not say the word "Monkey" for three days you would receive a guaranteed $1,000,000. A sane person would do whatever they had to do not say monkey for three days.

    If you told a mentally ill person not to hear the voices for three days and you would give them $1,000,000 it could not happen - the voices would still come.

    The first person has the ability to make choices, clear and conscious choices. The second cannot, even for all the money in the world.

    It is easy to demand justice of another - probably because we do not walk in their shoes.

    (At the same time - I am not suggesting that the dangerously ill get a free pass to walk our streets)

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 13, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    As "DrGroovy" points out, a court-ordered commitment to a mental institution is not intended as punishment. There is no justification for imposing a long "sentence" to the institution when a person is found legally insane, as the reason for the commitment is treatment and not punishment. They are kept there until such time as the treating physicians and the court agree that the illness is cured and public safety is not endangered by their release.

    During my years working in the law office, we entered only one plea of insanity, and that was a case where the prosecutor not only agreed with us, but had initially urged us to consider that defense. It's not an easy defense to sell to a court or a jury, and it usually results in the person being institutionalized far longer than they would have spent in prison.

    And a note to "Flashback": the underlying concept behind legal insanity is that the person is not responsible for their acts and, thus, cannot be held responsible.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:48 a.m.

    Unfortunately when someone calls the police when someone with mental illness acts out their loved ends being shot. I am not blaming the police. What can they can do when someone points a weapon at them. I have an ex-spouse with schizophrenia. She would stop taking her medications and end up in the hospital. We were driving down the interstate and she started undressing and tried to get out of the vehicle. Once she walked out of the hospital and walked all way from the U of U home to Kearns. I had no idea where she was. The problem is that it is near impossible to force treatment on someone who is mentally ill. Liberals believe we are violating their civil rights. I say baloney to that. We have homeless people that are mentally ill living on the streets. Society needs to find a better way to help the mentally ill.

  • History Freak Somewhere in Time, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:39 a.m.

    ECT or "shock" treatments can work miracles on people with bipolar disorder. I know this because I have a family member who is receiving them. They are about 85% to 90% effective.

    They are not what people think they are. They are actually very easy to receive under anesthetic. I have actually witnessed this being administered quite a number of times. They are amazing. I would encourage anyone who knows someone with this disorder (or other forms of depression) to contact the University of Utah ECT clinic and get help. You will be glad you did.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:28 a.m.

    Anyone that commits a crime such as this is insane. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be held responsible.

  • cmsense Kaysville, UT
    May 13, 2014 7:07 a.m.

    The fact is those found guilty and mentally ill typically spend a longer time commited to a State hospital than someone not mentally ill would spend in prison. Perhaps the state could amend the law so he wouldn't have the option to get out for some time so the family wouldn't have to stress every 6 months for serious crimes.

    How about an automatic ban for owning guns for 5 years for those who are commited against their will to a hospital?

  • fowersjl Farmington, Utah
    May 13, 2014 7:01 a.m.

    Such a sad story. There does not seem to be a workable solution for people suffering from mental illness who commit crimes. Not enough hospital beds. Our prisons are overflowing with the mentally ill. Statistics are that over half the population of our prisons and jails have some sort of mental illness that requires treatment, but most are not being treated or simply refuse to take prescribed medication. I sympathize with the family in this case, and their fear that the perpetrator of this crime will be released to their care, with the strong possibility of recommitting. There is not enough money anywhere to solve these complex problems.

  • K Mchenry, IL
    May 12, 2014 9:56 p.m.

    Justice for the victim is also justice for the sufferer. We have got to do more than experiment on and separate people with mental illnesses. Would anyone want their mind to go through such thoughts as to actually carry out such awful deeds? If we hadn't wasted decades, centuries really, ignoring the healing in the mental health field people wouldn't be victimized by people with mental illness, and there would be people managing mental illness. I don't believe we have a handle on managing mental illness that we can know a person must be of sound mind when they stop taking meds.

  • DrGroovey Salt Lake City, UT
    May 12, 2014 9:54 p.m.

    Unfortunately, most people in our community believe revenge is the goal of the justice system. It is not. The fact is, when both the prosecutor and the defense agree that someone was legally insane at the time of the crime, it is both immoral and unjust to punish them. Legally insane means that the person did not understand the wrongness of their actions at the time of the crime. Punishing someone who is (or was) legally insane is just plain wrong. It does not undo the crime, it does not deter future crime, and it does not in anyway help or bring comfort to the victims. Only a very hate filled person would want to punish someone like that.

  • Random Redlands, CA
    May 12, 2014 9:16 p.m.

    I'm waiting for someone I know to have a "mental break" and inflict more damage than she already has. She takes meds for something completely different but there's no help out there for mentally ill people, their family, and the community they occasionally terrorize.

  • El Chango Supremo Rexburg, ID
    May 12, 2014 7:26 p.m.

    I do believe that mentally ill people need to be responsible for their actions. He was aware of his condition and chose to stop taking his medication and now someone is dead. Further, people who are mentally ill to that degree should not be allowed to own a firearm or obtain a concealed carry permit.

    The truth is he's not mentally ill, he's crazy!

    Mentally ill people admit they have a problem and seek help and follow a doctors advice. Crazy people deny there is a problem, discontinue their medication against the advice of doctors and are a menace and a danger to their loved ones and those around them.