Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mental Illness & Murder: The Earlier We Provide Treatment, The Better

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A Louisiana father accused of beheading his disabled 7-year-old son was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity Friday, after several experts on mental illness concluded he was delusional and believed that his son was no longer real but had been replaced with a CPR dummy.
State District Judge John LeBlanc made the rare decision in the case against Jeremiah Wright, 32, of Thibodaux. Wright will not face a capital murder trial and will be returned to the state mental hospital in Jackson. That is where he had been held for much of the 2½ years since his son, Jori Lirette, was killed on Aug. 14, 2011. The boy's head was left in the driveway of the home from which Lirette's mother, Jesslyn Lirette, planned to evict Wright.
"It was the only ruling, really, that the court could make," said Lafourche Parish District Attorney Camille "Cam" Morvant. "There was indisputable testimony from experts that Mr. Wright was psychotic and delusional and suffered from a major mental disorder at the time of the crime."
From the February 20, 2014 Salt Lake Tribune:
On Thursday, Evans — mostly healed from the gunshot wound — stood before 2nd District Judge W. Brent West and asked him to punish Jennings harshly for the June 16 crime.
"I ask that you sentence him to the maximum prison time the law allows," Evans said, an audible slur still apparent due to gunshot damage to his teeth and tongue.
Tara Evans told West that after Jennings shot her husband, her son-in-law turned and pointed the gun at her chest. If it weren’t for a number of unarmed parishioners who rushed toward the shooter, she said she felt he would have tried to kill her too....
His attorney, Michael Bouwhuis, said Thursday that while his client was found competent for trial, he definitely is mentally ill. The attorney said that doctors believe Jennings has auditory hallucinations and a psychotic disorder.
 In this case, it appears that meth may have played some part in his psychosis; yet another reason why legalizing meth is a really bad idea.

From February 19, 2014 CBS Philadelphia:
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia woman has been found guilty of shooting her mother, dousing her with gasoline and setting her on fire inside a home back in 2007.
On Dec. 20, 2007, Jahina Damon is said to have shot her mother, poured gasoline on her and then set the body on fire inside a home in the 6000 block of Cobbs Creek Parkway. Another woman was badly burned in the house fire that ensued, but she survived.
On Wednesday, 35-year-old Damon was found guilty but mentally ill of First Degree Murder, Attempted Murder, and other related charges.
 From February 20, 2014 ABC San Francisco:
DeWitt is talking about the beating death two years ago of 67-year-old Berkeley Hills resident Peter Cukor. DeWitt's son Daniel was charged with the crime, but declared mentally incompetent to stand trial. She says the family had tried for years to get help.
"We can have as many good programs as we want in our community, but if they are voluntary and they don't understand they are ill, these people, they will not walk in and ask for help," said DeWitt.
That's why DeWitt is leading a grassroots effort to get Laura's Law implemented in Alameda County.
The 2002 law calls for involuntary community based, court-ordered outpatient treatment for certain individuals with a documented history of serious mental illness.
 The problem isn't just here.  From January 23, 2014 BBC:
Triple killer Joanna Dennehy has been diagnosed with three different personality disorders, a jury has heard.
Dennehy, 31, has admitted stabbing three men and dumping their bodies in ditches in Cambridgeshire last year.
Two men are on trial at Cambridge Crown Court, where they deny related charges.
The court has been told psychiatrists who assessed her found her to have psychopathic, anti-social and emotional instability disorders.
Lukasz Slaboszewski, 31, John Chapman, 56, and Kevin Lee, 48, were found dumped in ditches near Peterborough in March and April.
 Here's an Australian tragedy where a mentally ill man murdered his son with a knife in public, before being shot to death by police, from February 15, 2014 The Age:
On Wednesday he took the train to Tyabb with the concealed knife. His plan, police believe, was to commit ''suicide by cop'' after killing Luke.
Initial investigations indicate he didn't kill his son as an act of revenge or out of murderous rage, but through the fog of his mental illness he saw it as the only possible release for both of them.
The savagery of the attack showed he was determined to kill the 11-year-old.
Anderson made no attempt to escape. He waited for the police, fought through the pain of the capsicum foam sprayed on him and then, still carrying the knife, ran at one officer screaming that he wanted to be killed. That policeman fired one shot that hit Anderson in the chest. He died in hospital about six hours later.
His plan, borne from madness, was now complete.
There were five warrants out for Anderson's arrest when he smashed his son with a cricket bat and then attacked him with a knife. But he was never looking at serious jail time. Such relatively minor offences usually result in immediate bail.
The police computer system - a 20-year disaster - failed to notify operational police that he was wanted, but this murder cannot be written off as a law-enforcement failure. The senseless death of someone so innocent has again raised the iceberg-deep issue of domestic violence.
But the real issue is our inability to deal with the mentally ill, and the problem is getting worse. It is a massive problem, so much so that all police are being retrained to deal with the deeply disturbed.

Read more:
From Canada:
Officials say 37 year-old Ken Barter should not be released from a mental care facility, where he has been confined since killing his friend.
Nathan Mayrhofer, 32, was at Barter’s apartment for a night of drinking.
Barter, who was not taking his medications, thought his friend was trying to hypnotize him.
He killed Mayrhofer with a hammer, dismembered the body and placed it in his fridge and freezer.
Barter was found not guilty of second degree murder by reason of a mental disorder.
I could keep going.  There's no shortage of news stories like this in the last few weeks.  We need to do a better job of providing mental health care to those in need, not just for their benefit, but for the safety of the rest of us.


  1. My brother was Nathan Mayrhofer and he was murdered by Ken Barter in your article. I completely agree with your statement that the mental health care especially here in BC is a complete mess. The murder of my brother and all that happened with it that has not and cannot be reported in depth in the media is even more horrific and painful. My family lives with this pain every day. And every year we relive it at his review board hearing to see if they will let him out. We just attended the fourth one since my brothers death in 2010 in January where he has been remanded to the mental institution for another year. He is, although, allowed to go for coffee and day outings. Change needs to happen!!