MENTAL PATIENT KILLS NURSE, POLICE SAY TWO ELDERLY PATIENTS ALSO INJURED IN RAMPAGE
Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, April 11, 2001
by Colleen Mastony Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Page number 1A
PORT ST. LUCIE - A mental patient who said he was sent by God to rid the world of bad people is accused of beating a nurse to death with his fists and injuring two other patients as he was being involuntarily committed to a hospital early Tuesday. An orderly said he had left nurse Alda Ellington, 47, alone with Alberto Serrano, 34, of Stuart after being called away to quiet a disturbance in another part of Savannas Hospital & Treatment Center.
When the orderly left, Serrano was calmly eating a tuna fish sandwich.
Ten minutes later another nurse saw him wandering the hallways. The orderly returned and found Ellington in a pool of blood inside the ward for severely disturbed patients.
Serrano was charged with first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder and is being held without bail at the St. Lucie County jail. In a separate incident three days before, Serrano had punched a patient unprovoked while in the waiting room of a different psychiatric hospital, New Horizons in St. Lucie County, while he was waiting to be admitted there, according to a St. Lucie County Sheriff's report. Deputies arrested him on a misdemeanor charge of battery but released him the next day on $500 bond.
Ellington had stopped breathing by the time paramedics arrived at Savannas at 2:45 a.m. She sustained head injuries and died at the scene, according to paramedics. After the rescue crew left with Ellington, a staff member discovered two elderly patients had been beaten while sleeping in their unlocked rooms.
Olive Simpson, 75, of Wellington was in critical condition at St. Lucie Medical Center Tuesday night. Elizabeth Scott, 64, of Port St. Lucie, was treated at the St. Lucie Medical Center for a broken nose and released back to Savannas.
Deputies found Serrano, 34, of 2917 Delmar Ave., soaking wet and quietly sitting in a chair outside the hospital. He had jumped in a nearby pond after the attack.
Serrano answered basic questions and gave police his name and age in a low, unwavering voice. Asked what happened, he said, "I don't know." His swollen hands had deep cuts on the knuckles.
Though he later confessed, officials were not sure whether that statement would be admissable in court because of questions surrounding his competency. "If he is found to be insane, then you could never prosecute," Assistant State Attorney Lynn Park said at a news conference Tuesday.
"Whether they know right from wrong, that's the basic issue." Police had taken Serrano to New Horizons of the Treasure Coast on Friday, according to Serrano's girlfriend Nadia Pena, 27. Friends in a house where he had been staying called police after Serrano woke them up in the middle of the night, yelling "things from the Bible," preaching to and slapping them, Pena said. The friends refused to press charges, so Serrano was taken to New Horizons, Pena said.
Out to punish 'bad people' "He always said the same thing," Pena said. "(He said:) 'Don't worry about anything because I'm going to take care of all the bad people in the world' " Bad people were those who "did not follow God's rules . . . like fornicators, child abusers, drug addicts, his wife," Pena said. Serrano was separated from his wife, according to Pena. She had known Serrano for three months.
Pena bailed Serrano out of the St. Lucie jail Saturday after the incident at New Horizons. "He was fine. He was very happy to see me," she said. New Horizons chief operating officer John Romano declined to comment on the incident.
Serrano also seemed fine on Monday when Pena arrived home from work about 8:30 p.m. She drove him back to his apartment and was about to leave when she found him in the bathroom with a knife. "He said, 'God is calling me and he wants me to do it,' " Pena said. She took him to Martin Memorial Medical Center about 12:30 a.m.
Doctors there were familiar with him, Pena said, and they decided to transfer him to Savannas Hospital under the Baker Act, which allows officials to involuntarily commit a person who has been determined to be a threat to himself or others. Pena followed the transport car to Savannas Hospital. When Serrano arrived shortly after 2 a.m., the nurse at the intake station was busy with another patient. She asked orderly James Chambers, 32, to take Serrano back to the intensive treatment ward, Chambers said.
Serrano was calm and cooperative as Chambers led him to the ward, in an isolated section of the hospital, and searched him for weapons, Chambers said. Serrano said he was hungry and Chambers gave him a tuna fish sandwich. "This guy was calm and cool," Chambers said. Chambers was the only male staff member on-duty that night, he said.
Serrano seemed passive, and it seemed safe to leave him with Ellington when Chambers was called to another unit, Chambers said.
About 10 minutes later, another nurse called to report seeing a strange man wandering the halls and trying to unlock the door in another ward.
Chambers went to investigate and found Ellington. Serrano had used Ellington's keys to escape the locked ward.
There is no alarm button to signal an emergency on the ward, sheriff's officials said. The ward's heavy doors and isolated location would have prevented anyone from hearing a struggle, Chambers said. Savannas Hospital, a 70-bed facility owned by Liberty Management Group, released the following statement Tuesday: "We are deeply saddened by the death of a staff member. Mental illness is a devastating, often chronic illness, which requires staff dedication and compassion. This particular staff member had a deep commitment to treating mental health patients and had worked in this field for the last 25 years."
Meanwhile, friends mourned Ellington. "Alda was the nicest person you ever want to meet," Chambers said. "She was always smiling." A native of Jamaica, she had moved to Port St. Lucie about 12 years ago from New York City. She had worked as a nurse at the Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Fort Pierce until a year ago, when she started working the night shift at Savannas Hospital. She had married in 1993 and divorced in 1997, according to county records. Since then she lived alone. She did not have any children, but kept a wide circle of friends.
Alcohol leads to arrests
Serrano has a criminal history that includes driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 and 1994, carrying a concealed weapon in 1989, and several traffic violations over the past decade. Reports indicate he was under the influence of alcohol in most cases, and several mention that he was violent either before or after his arrest. A native of Puerto Rico, he has worked as a carpenter and roofer for more than a dozen years, primarily in Martin County. Friends said he was currently working for Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach.
He was married twice and has an 8-year-old daughter with his second wife, Kimberly, court records show. In 1991, Serrano wrote a letter to a Martin County judge saying he had been hospitalized for mental problems for three months and was experiencing financial problems.
In 1995, after he was charged with violating a probation term stemming from his drunken-driving conviction, Serrano's wife wrote a letter stating her husband had suffered from "mental as well as physical illnesses" which caused him to lose a job.
"Alberto is a very fine and respectable person," his wife, Kimberly, wrote. "He has his faults, but he is a good person. He has never been in any major trouble before."
Staff writers Teresa Lane, Nirvi Shah, Jim Reeder, Jill Taylor and Pat Moore contributed to this story.
Crippled Traveler is awarded $3.5M
United Press International
NEWARK - More than $3.5 million in damages has been awarded in the case of a commuter who was crippled in a Penn Station shooting by a deranged woman nearly four years ago.
After an eight-day trial in U.S. District Court, the jury Friday found Amtrak, the station's former owner, and Port Authority TransHudson Corporation, operator of the PATH commuter line, negligent for failing to provide adequate security.
The victim, a former Brooklyn resident, was leaving a restroom in the downtown Newark station to take a PATH train to New York on Jan. 21, 1981, when a bullet hit her in the back of the neck, severing her spinal cord.
Her lawyer, Arthur Miller, said she never saw her attacker, Waynetta Cockrell, 26, who was declared innocent by reason of insanity in May and committed to a state hospital.
Beatrice Dong, 33, of Oakland, Calif., a quadriplegic who has some use of her hands, was en route to her job as a computer programmer in San Francisco when the verdict was returned Friday morning on the second day of deliberations.
Co-counsel James Hely said his client was "shocked" and happy to learn the jury awarded her $2.8 million in damages.
Her husband, Harvey Dong, a typesetter, was awarded $750,000, and lawyers said the couple, who have three children, would receive about $1.5 million in interest since 1981.
Testimony showed Cockrell, who was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, arrived by bus that day from Louisville, Ky., five months after she was released from a mental hospital with no medication or follow up.
Arthur Miller said psychiatric experts for both sides agreed she was "commanded by voices telling her to shoot someone," but disagreed on whether the presence of uniformed officers could have prevented the shooting.
Amtrak lawyers argued the crime was "absolutely unforeseeable and unavoidable," and called police officers to testify there were no overt signs that Cockrell was dangerous.
Donald Volkert, who represented Amtrak and PATH, said the verdict will be appealed if a motion for a new trial is denied.
Using crime reports compiled by Amtrak police, the Dongs' lawyers argued the defendants were aware the state's largest and busiest station was a "combat zone," but failed to take proper steps to safeguard commuters.
Arthur Miller said 307 incidents, ranging from armed robbery and assault to bomb threats, were reported by Amtrak employees at the station in 1980.
Driver Charged With Murder in Deaths
Of Four California Pedestrians
Monday, February 26, 2001
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Prosecutors charged a college freshman with four counts of murder and other crimes Monday for allegedly running down pedestrians with his car in a neighborhood near the University of California, Santa Barbara.
David E. Attias, 18, accused of being behind the wheel of a car that killed four people and injured a fifth as it barreled down an Isla Vista street Friday night, was scheduled for arraignment on 13 felony counts Tuesday in Santa Barbara County Superior Court.
Attias, of Santa Monica, was charged with four counts of murder, four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and five counts of driving while under the influence of drugs and causing great bodily injury.
The scene of victims strewn on the street and Attias fighting with other young men before his arrest was videotaped by a local cameraman.
Attias, who was held without bail, is the son of Daniel Attias, who has directed episodes of Ally McBeal, The Practice and The Sopranos.
The Attias family could not be reached for comment Monday despite several calls to their Santa Monica home. Officials said that Attias was being represented by a Los Angeles lawyer, but his identity was not made immediately available.
Killed in the crash were Nicholas Shaw Bourdakis and Christopher Edward Divis, both 20 and UCSB students; Ruth Dasha Golda Levy, 20, a Santa Barbara City College student; and Elie Israel, 27, of San Francisco.
Levy's older brother, Albert Arthur Levy, 27, remained in critical condition Monday after multiple surgeries.
Albert Levy was in town from San Francisco, where he lived with Israel, to visit his sister, said sheriff's Lt. Mike Burridge.
Witnesses said Attias got out of the car and shouted, "I am the angel of death!" the Santa Barbara News-Press reported. Police said they could not confirm the report.
Neighbors and fellow students in newspaper reports described Attias as a loner with a hyperactive nature. He was known as "Crazy Dave" in the private 10-story dormitory where he lived near campus.
They said Attias would barge into rooms, follow people into elevators for companionship and invite himself into dining groups at the cafeteria.
"He was always fidgeting. He looked like he was kind of whacked-out," neighbor Zack Chancer told the Los Angeles Times.
A freshman told the Times and the Santa Barbara paper that Attias made claims of speaking with God and sometimes acted erratically. He also had become a recent fan of techno music and played it loudly at the dorm.
Attias, who has not declared a major, graduated from Concord High School in Santa Monica last year.
"He was a very regular student and did what he was supposed to do," said Susan Packer Davis, 49, administrator of the school. "He didn't cause any scenes and did not do anything untoward at all."
A candlelight service was scheduled for Monday night at Isla Vista and a memorial service will be held Thursday at Storke Plaza on the UCSB campus.
Students have organized distribution of yellow ribbons to remember the victims, said school spokeswoman Joan Magruder.
"I've been on this campus for 20 years and I've never seen anything like this," Magruder said. "Students start crying when they see the flag at half-staff. There is so much grief and they are so traumatized by it. ... Students are walking with their head down and I haven't heard one bit of laughter at all today."
Thursday, March 25, 1999
Man is found guilty in death of ABC agent
Jury also finds defendant mentally ill, sets 20-year term for slaying on parkway
EDDYVILLE -- A jury recommended a 20-year prison sentence yesterday for a Paducah man found guilty but mentally ill in the shooting death of a state Alcoholic Beverage Control officer.
The Lyon Circuit Court jury recommended the maximum sentence after finding Timothy R. Doyle guilty but mentally ill late Tuesday night on a charge of first-degree manslaughter for killing ABC agent Brandon Thacker.
``We're very grateful to the jury for ... agreeing that the maximum sentence should be imposed,'' said Lyon Commonwealth's Attorney G.L. Ovey.
Formal sentencing was scheduled for May 3 before Judge Bill Cunningham.
Under the guilty-but-mentally-ill verdict, a defendant is sentenced to prison with a request that he receive treatment. State corrections officials ultimately decide a defendant's mental status and whether it merits treatment.
The recommended sentence would mean that Doyle would serve at least 10 years in prison before being eligible for a parole hearing, Ovey said.
The jury deliberated nearly 121/2 hours Tuesday before returning its verdict in the shooting of Thacker last April 16. Thacker, 27, of Louisville, was shot with a .44-caliber handgun while trying to stop Doyle on the Western Kentucky Parkway.
Doyle has a history of mental illness, and the defense contended that Doyle believed Thacker was about to harm him and another ABC agent.
After a weeklong trial, the jury had the option of finding Doyle innocent, innocent by reason of insanity, guilty but mentally ill or guilty. They were given instructions on murder, first- and second-degree manslaughter and reckless homicide. The last two included elements of self-defense.
The facts in the case were largely undisputed. On April 16, 1998, Doyle shadowed Thacker and two other ABC agents on the parkway in Lyon County as the agents' convoy of unmarked cars traveled from Paducah to Henderson. Doyle, who was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was delusional, said his attorney, Mark Stanziano. Doyle believed he had stumbled on an attempt by Thacker to kidnap Jennifer Shearer, a female agent driving in front of him, Stanziano said.
The ABC agents had grown wary of Doyle's weaving in and out of their convoy for about 30 miles, and Thacker had radioed to colleagues that he intended to stop Doyle.
Doyle pulled alongside Thacker's unmarked cruiser and fired three shots from a .44-caliber Magnum pistol he had bought 18 months earlier. Doyle testified he thought Thacker had pointed a gun at him and he feared for his life.
But Ovey said no one but Doyle believed Thacker was brandishing a pistol.
Death Penalty News -- Tuesday, 4-28-98
The man accused of gunning down a Millbrae police officer Saturday has a
history of mental illness, including a 5-month stay at Atascadero
State Hospital. He also has a criminal record dating back to 1974,
according to court documents.
Until 3 days ago, Marvin Patrick Sullivan's arrests were for relatively
minor crimes -- possession of homemade weapons, sending threatening
letters, grand theft and shoplifting. But today, prosecutors plan to
arraign Sullivan, 43, a San Francisco truck driver, on charges that could
carry a death sentence.
"We want the district attorney to seek the death penalty," said Millbrae
police Chief Mike Parker. "Hopefully he'll be executed for what he did."
Sullivan is accused of firing 40 rounds during a routine traffic stop.
Officer David Chetcuti, a 43-year-old motorcycle police veteran, was
killed during the shootout. Several rounds pierced his bullet-proof
Prosecutors charged Sullivan this afternoon in San Mateo County with
1st-degree murder, attempted murder, possession of explosives and the
killing of a police officer -- a special allegation that carries a
minimum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
But some believe that Sullivan's mental history may keep him from
"I would be very surprised if he was or is not at this time totally
nuts," said attorney Charles Robinson, who was appointed by the court to
defend Sullivan in a local shoplifting case last year. "All I can tell
you is that he is delusional, and that this would fit into the delusions
he was suffering in '97."
Sullivan, who also used the name Black Beard, was arrested Jan. 5, 1997,
for stealing at a Home Depot in San Carlos. Sullivan was concealing a
bayonet while lifting items from the store, according to court
He later told court-appointed psychiatrists that he needed the bayonet to
protect himself while on a secret mission. The doctors diagnosed him as
delusional and the court deemed him not competent to stand trial.
Sullivan was committed to a psychiatric unit and eventually pleaded no
contest to 2 misdemeanors.
2 years earlier, Sullivan was released from psychiatric care at
Atascadero State Hospital, where he was held for 5 months for sending
a threatening letter to Municipal Court clerks in Tracy.
Prosecutors alleged that although the rambling note was cryptic,
Sullivan was threatening to kill the staff for sending him a
failure-to-appear notice on a traffic matter.
Sullivan admitted to police that he sent similar letters to the Secret
Service, the FBI and President Clinton, said San Joaquin Assistant
District Attorney James Willett. He claimed that he had links to
high-ranking Mafia officials, Satan and "anti-Rockefeller
Republicans," according to court records.
Doctors diagnosed him as a paranoid schizophrenic, and said he suffered
from delusional disorder, the documents state. The court found him not
competent to stand trial and ordered him to the custody of Atascadero.
Hospital officials later deemed him fit to stand trial, but a judge
dismissed the case, saying that the contents of the letter were too
vague to be considered threatening.
Officials here are concerned that Sullivan's past mental state may play a
big role in his defense in Chetcuti's death.
"We will devote whatever resources are necessary to see that justice is
done," said San Mateo District Attorney Jim Fox.
Chetcuti is the first San Mateo County officer killed in the line of
duty since rookie East Palo Alto Officer Joel Davis was shot to death
Chetcuti had rushed to the Millbrae Avenue exit that morning to back up a
San Bruno officer who had called for help during the traffic stop.
Sullivan, whose car registration had expired, opened fire on the 2
officers with a homemade automatic weapon, according to police. After
arresting Sullivan, deputies searched his hotel room in San Francisco's
South of Market district, uncovering rifle parts, gunpowder, blasting
caps and other bomb-making paraphernalia, Parker said.
Sullivan later confessed to San Mateo County sheriff's deputies that he
killed Chetcuti, but would not discuss where he was headed that morning
or what he was doing with the explosives, Parker said.
(source: San Francisco Chronicle)
MAN CHASED, BEATEN OVER FONDLING GIRL
Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, March 17, 1999
by Lillian Weis Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Page number 5B
WEST PALM BEACH - Neighbors caught and beat a 44-year-old man Tuesday after he grabbed and fondled an 8-year-old girl in the 600 block of 55th Street, police said. Ernest Shaw of 615 58th St. was in police custody Tuesday after he was treated for cuts to his head at St. Mary's Medical Center. He was being held at the county jail Yuesday night on charges of lewd assault on a child, and false imprisonment, police said.
The girl, who had been in-line skating, was unharmed, police spokeswoman Dena Peterson said. Shaw's family said he is schizophrenic. ``I've been begging for help, and I can't get it,'' said Shaw's mother, Ruby Harvey. ``He is in no shape to be walking around in the streets. But he's not violent.''
Copyright (c) 1999, The Palm Beach Post
LIBERTY BELL HIT BY MAN WIELDING A SLEDGEHAMMER SHOUTING ABOUT GOD, HE LEFT FOUR SMALL MARKS BEFORE A PARK RANGER TACKLED HIM. TEMPORARY REPAIRS WERE MADE, AND TOURS RESUMED.
Philadelphia Inquirer, Saturday, April 7, 2001
by Joseph A. Slobodzian, Julie Stoiber and Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Page number A01
A self-described "wanderer" from Nebraska pulled out a small sledgehammer during a tour at the Liberty Bell yesterday morning and struck the symbol of American freedom four times - shouting "God lives!" with each blow - before he was tackled by a park ranger and arrested. Four indentations, three of them crescents roughly the width of a quarter, were left on the 249-year-old bell, but there was no severe damage - at least not nearly as bad as the famous, vertical crack the bell sustained in 1835.
The bell was patched, and tours resumed a few hours after Mitchell Guilliatt, 27, set upon it about 10 a.m., authorities said. The attack occurred while a group of fourth graders from the Bronx, N.Y., were taking pictures inside the glass-and-steel Liberty Bell Pavilion, across from Independence Hall.
"He was very nervous, moving back and forth. All of a sudden, he just started hitting. I thought it was an act, so I took a picture," said Tina Amantea, the mother of one of the schoolchildren.
"I saw him come around the back of the bell, and I saw him swing it," said Anthony Pressimone, a school chaperone, who described the tool as a sledgehammer with a black metal head and a wooden handle about a foot and a half long.
Upon hearing metal strike metal, a National Park ranger ran to the rear of the bell and tackled Guilliatt. David Negron, a New York City police detective on the school trip with his son, helped hold the thin man down while rangers pried the hammer from Guilliatt's hands. Guilliatt told authorities that he had been born in Nebraska but was "a wanderer." He had been staying at a small Center City hotel and had checked out yesterday morning.
Dressed in green military camouflage pants and a black T-shirt with an etching of Jesus Christ, Guilliatt was charged in U.S. District Court with damaging U.S. property and damaging an archaeological resource, charges that carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison. A bail hearing was set for Wednesday.
Witnesses said Guilliatt also had brought a bamboo cane and a guitar case with him into the pavilion, resting them against a wall before he began hammering at the Liberty Bell. The 2,000-pound, three-foot-tall bell - housed on the mall bounded by Market, Chestnut, Fifth and Sixth Streets - draws 1.6 million visitors a year and is the city's most popular historic site.
Elaine Gross, a private tour guide, said she had heard Guilliatt complain after being tackled that "I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything violent."
His grandmother Bertha Guilliatt of Auburn, Neb., told the Associated Press that he had never been in trouble and was religious. "I was always worried that maybe he was a fanatic or something. He always said God would take care of him," she said. "Every time he smacked it, he said, 'God lives!' " said Tony Dinome, another visitor who had just heard a four-minute talk on the bell from park ranger Kevin O'Brien.
Yet another, Patti Lapadula, said Guilliatt also had said: "Free the spirit inside the bell with God."
"We were stunned," said Marie Brady, a teacher from Our Lady of the Assumption School in the Bronx.
"We were in the back, and he hit it, and we ran in the front," said Victoria Monti, a fourth grader. "We were really scared." Within an hour, a conservator from the Philadelphia Museum of Art arrived to make temporary repairs to the marks on the bell, which is made of a relatively soft metal that is mostly copper and tin with traces of lead, zinc, iron, silver, gold, nickel, arsenic and antimony. The largest dent was oblong and about an inch by nearly three-quarters of an inch, while the others were crescent-shaped and almost an inch in length. The dents were about six inches above the bottom of the bell at the point where it begins to flare out.
The marks appeared white until the museum specialists applied a protective waxy substance with a pigment roughly the color of the bell.
They also picked up minuscule shards of metal from the floor, evidently from the bell.
Though rangers do not encourage visitors to touch the Liberty Bell - and sometimes ask that they refrain from doing so - they do not sternly discourage it. Velvet cordons are placed around the bell, but it is easily within arm's reach, and many people do place a hand on the American emblem of liberty.
When the pavilion was reopened yesterday, access behind the bell had been closed off, and a park law enforcement officer was positioned there. "I just hope we don't overreact to this and put it behind glass," said Ralph Archbold, a well-known Benjamin Franklin portrayer in Philadelphia who was at the Liberty Bell. "That bell has meant so much to many people who could reach out and touch it."
Yesterday afternoon, Guilliatt was brought before U.S. Magistrate Judge M. Faith Angell, who ordered a psychiatric examination to determine if he is competent for the criminal case to proceed.
Guilliatt observed the courtroom and proceedings intently, staring at the spectators and reporters who were staring at him and nodding at people as he established eye contact.
After Angell asked that a federal defender act as Guilliatt's attorney, Guilliatt responded: "I don't want a lawyer, and I won't let you appoint me one, either. I would like to thank my God for letting me have this hearing.
I send peace and love to everybody from that God. I know love exists, though I have never personally known it."
He also told the judge: "We are all one in the body of Christ, and God is the judge over all of us."
Judge chides mental health system
By Inger Sandal
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
A judge yesterday blasted the Legislature for failing to fix Arizona's underfunded mental health system as he sentenced a man who had pleaded guilty but insane to killing his mother with a kitchen knife.
"Many of the mentally ill of this state go without effective or meaningful treatment because of that dereliction of duty by the state. Among them live those who are time bombs who could go off at any time and at terrible expense, just as you did," Pima County Superior Court Judge Michael J. Brown told Faraz Ahmad.
Ahmad, 24, has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who suffered psychotic delusions when he repeatedly stabbed his mother, Fakhira Shaheen, in the throat on May 25, 1999. The former college student ran from a group home to kill his mother in response to voices, his attorney has said.
Brown found Ahmad competent to enter into the unusual plea on May 15, which commits the former college student to the jurisdiction of Arizona's Psychiatric Security Review Board instead of prison for the rest of his life.
"I have little discretion if I'm going to attempt to meaningfully protect society from your penchant for random violence," said Brown.
Brown noted the cruelty and senselessness of the slaying and the emotional damage it has caused the family.
He commented on the state's responsibility to ensure that schizophrenics who live in the community remain on their medication.
"The fact that no one in this system has figured out or had the intelligence or common sense to figure out how to monitor medication for schizophrenics the way they do for heroin addicts is, quite frankly, beyond me. There clearly is a way to do that," Brown said.
Ahmad will remain in a secured psychiatric facility - for now, the Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix - until the board determines that he no longer suffers from mental illness and is not dangerous. As part of the plea, the board will re-evaluate him every two years.
Deputy County Attorney Kathleen Mayer later agreed with the judge's "perspective on the woeful lack of funding, and lack of legislative priorities. Mr Ahmad was a time bomb waiting to happen." The plea ensures Ahmad "will be supervised for the rest of his life."
Ahmad's uncle, Mohammad Nawaz, told the judge of his family's struggle to get help for Ahmad, who had started to show signs of mental illness his first semester at the University of Arizona. After doctors diagnosed him with schizophrenia the family struggled to get him structured care.
Ahmad, who was born in Pakistan, spent about a year at the state hospital - which Ahmad described as miserable and not conducive to recovery. Ahmad then went to a group home.
Police and court records show Ahmad was taken to Kino Community Hospital's psychiatric unit for evaluation two days before the slaying, but he was denied admittance after his doctor ordered him sent back to the group home.
The staff tried to get Ahmad placed in a more secure facility because he had tried to run away several times and assaulted a staff member.
"He was getting out of control," said Nawaz, who visited the home with his sister that weekend. "We were all visiting him and he was in the worst mental condition that I have ever seen before," he said yesterday afternoon.
"How can they not have admitted him at the time that he needed help? After he ran from the group home no one called any relative's home. No one tried to tell his mom he is dangerous right now … and if he comes not to open the door. There are a lot of things that could have been done."
Staff members tried to follow him in a van but lost him. Police also searched for Ahmad until he called 911 about 90 minutes later and confessed to stabbing his mother.
Yesterday Ahmad told the judge he "committed this crime … because of a program I saw on the TV at (the state hospital). … I gathered from it I had to do this in order to … fit in to the situation that I wanted to be in. I wanted to work for the government."
His attorney has said Ahmad was influenced by the movie "La Femme Nikita" - a violent thriller about a woman who becomes an undercover assassin for the government to escape execution.
"I have been visiting him every week since he has been in jail and we will keep trying our best for his mental recovery and for his improvement of his health," Nawaz told the judge. "The Faraz I know and our family knows is a very, very kind and gentle person. And, unfortunately, this thing happened and we could not stop it."
Brown told the family they had not been singled out for abuse by the mental health system. "The system is bankrupt. (The state hospital) as you mention, it is miserable. … It is not an accredited institution by any nationally known hospital accrediting association," Brown said.
Reporter Inger Sandal can be reached at 573-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
MARtin F. ABErnathy ----- [email@example.com] ----- 7/13/01