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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: mental health

Ex-Shock player in solitary confinement

Judy Reisner wants her son, Kevin Ellison, to get mental health treatment, but he sits in the Spokane County Jail. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)

A former pro football player arrested for arson in June remains in solitary confinement at the Spokane County Jail, and his mother says his mental health issues will worsen without treatment.

Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was a starting linebacker and defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, has twice been denied release from jail for mental health treatment. His lawyer appealed U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s last decision, but U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko rejected the appeal Aug. 1, citing in part an altercation Ellison had with jailers last month.

Ellison’s mother, Judy Reisner, traveled from Los Angeles to Spokane to visit Ellison in jail on Wednesday. He’s not doing well, she said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Past coverage:

June 20: Kevin Ellison to stay in jail without bail

June 14: Shock player says God told him to start fire

Watch me talk about this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton:

Murder suspect’s mental state questioned

A man who told detectives he murdered another methamphetamine addict in a fight over cigarettes will undergo a mental health examination. 

Acquaintances of suspect Shane Caleb Smith, 38, told investigators he is known as “Psycho Shane” and sometimes speaks of imaginary people and vivid hallucinations.

He also often accused people at gunpoint of things they did not do, witnesses told police.

Smith, who is pictured just after his arrest courtesy KHQ-TV, is accused of shooting Warren Scott Flinn on May 12.

Flinn, 44, died at a hospital May 16. 

Smith told detectives he and Flinn (right) had been out “scrapping” for metal near the railroad tracks on Lake Road when they began to argue over cigarettes.

Smith was arraigned on a second-degree murder charge Tuesday in Spokane County Superior Court. He was not given a trial date; rather, he was ordered to appear in court July 27 for an update on whether he's competent to stand trial.

Attack suspect to undergo mental exam

A man accused of a bizarre attack in downtown Spokane earlier this month is to undergo a mental health examination.

 Justin T. Betts, 29, is due back in Spokane County Superior Court next month to determine if he's competent to stand trial. An arraignment scheduled for last Thursday was cancelled.

Police say Betts, who had just been released from jail, was high on methamphetamine when the owner of Thompson's Food Mart at 1208 W. 3rd St., saw him get into a customer's car April 7 about 9:30 a.m.

Betts threatened the owner with a gun when confronted, police say, and also threatened several other people in the area. Betts also walked into the nearby Honda dealership and threatened employees, police say.

He told police his name was “Jimmy Jake Franks,” but officers eventually identified him as Betts, whose criminal convictions include third-degree child molestation in 2004.

Betts remains in jail on charges of first-degree robbery, two counts of felony harassment and possession of controlled substance.

DSHS worker had ‘disturbing’ child porn

A state social services employee accused of distributing child pornography must undergo a mental health evaluation before he can leave jail, a judge ruled today.

A federal prosecutor said the material distributed by Darrell J. Rogers, who licenses foster homes for children, is some of the worst he's encountered in his 36 years of practicing law.

“This is not normal child pornography,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl Hicks said at Rogers' bail hearing in U.S. District Court. “This is child pornography that is very disturbing.”

The material includes a video of a 3-month-old girl being raped by an adult male, Hicks said.

“This is not like trading baseball cards,” Hicks said. “What kind of person would have an interest in this?…Most people are disgusted by it, and most people would ask 'what's wrong with this person?'”

Rogers, 51, is a married father of two with no criminal history. He's lived in Spokane his entire life and has worked for the state Department of Health and Human Services since 1995. Family, friends and coworkers attended his hearing; some left afterward in tears.

Distributing child pornography carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for each image.

U.S Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno will review Rogers' mental health evaluation. Rogers and his wife must pay $25,000 bond to secure his release from jail. If he is released, Rogers will be confined to his home and must wear an electric monitor. Firearms that FBI agents found in his home during a search on Tuesday must be removed.

Imbrogno called the conditions “perhaps about as stringent as they get for this type of charge,” she said.

Hicks cited Rogers’ employment as a person in a position of trust with children as further reason for a mental health evaluation.

“He's leading a double life, in effect,” Hicks said.

A DSHS spokesman said Rogers will be reassigned to a position in which he does not have contact with children if he's released from jail pending the resolution of his case. Imbrogno said she'll decide if Rogers can be employed after reading his evaluation.

Rogers has been in the Spokane County Jail since Tuesday, when FBI agents arrested him at his home in the 7100 block of North Westgate Place in the Indian Trail area in north Spokane and seized a computer containing sexually explicit images of children.

The FBI began investigating him in February after an agent in Maryland downloaded child pornography from an Internet Protocol address linked to Rogers' home.

The material features the infant and children up to six years old, Hicks said.

Rogers told the FBI the material was on a computer in the guest bedroom when questioned, Hicks said.

Rogers also told investigators he'd never hurt a child and would contact authorities if he knew of someone who was. He said he wasn't sexually attracted to children but was “trying to figure out” child pornography.

Hicks said Rogers' response was typical “even from people who have been diagnosed as pedophiles.”

“I'm not saying Rogers is; I'm saying that's a typical response,” Hicks said.

He called the assertion that viewing and distributing child pornography doesn't harm children “bunk.”

“Fifty-one-year-olds creating generations of pedophiles. If we look at the facts, that’s what happens in a lot of circumstances,” Hicks said.

Public defender Matthew Campbell said a mental health evaluation isn't necessary and said Rogers is not a danger to the community. “He has no criminal history,” Campbell said.

Campbell said prosecutors have not opposed pre-trial release in other child pornography cases, but Hicks said the cases didn't involve three month olds being raped by adult males.

Niece found fit for trial in man’s death

ST. MARIES, Idaho (AP) — A psychologist has found a North Idaho woman is fit to stand trial in the shooting death of her uncle in May.

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports Daniel Hayes of Hayden Lake found 28-year-old Melisa R. Bates could both understand the charge against her and help her attorney with her defense.

Bates is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 43-year-old Robert D. Marek at his house eight miles south of St. Maries. Court records say Bates had been staying with Marek.

Benewah County Prosecutor Douglas Payne said Marek was shot with a handgun and beaten with a metal rod and an attempt was made to burn his body.

Bates is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22 in St. Maries before Magistrate Patrick McFadden.

Bayview murder suspect unfit for trial

COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — A district judge has suspended the criminal case against a Bayview man accused of attacking four neighbors with a hammer, killing one, because a psychologist has determined he’s unfit to stand trial.  

 The ruling last week is in the case of Larry Cragun, 31, who is charged with first-degree murder and other felonies in the Dec. 19 death of Patricia Heath, 43, and attacks on others.  

Cragun has been ordered into the custody of the Idaho Department of Correction for care and treatment. First District Judge Benjamin Simpson also ordered a progress report on Cragun’s status in 90 days.  

Kootenai County Prosecutors Barry McHugh told The Coeur d’Alene Press the case will no longer go forward until Cragun understands the charges and is better able to assist in his own defense.  

Cragun is accused of bursting into his neighbors’ trailer home and attacking them with a hammer and knife. He has pleaded not guilty.   

The attack at 34552 N. Limekiln Road in Bayview followed weeks of problems between the Heaths and Cragun, including bizarre claims by the suspect that authorities say were unfounded, including an allegation that Heath's son was “placing pubic hair in Cragun's food,” according to a police report.

After the attack, customers at JD's Resort told authorities that Cragun had said he needed to call 911 because he'd killed three or four people. He didn't complete the phone call. Instead, he grabbed a customer's beer “drank it, and left a dollar on the bar,” according to the police report.

Witnesses told police Cragun posted flyers suggesting there was an umbrella submerged in Lake Pend Oreille that, along with GPS tracking satellites, allowed the government to read peoples’ minds.  

Heath died of massive head trauma the day after the attack, and three others were injured. He also faces two counts of first-degree attempted murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault and burglary.  
The judge ordered a mental health evaluation for Cragun in March.

The evaluation was conducted by Dr. Chad Sombke, of Boise, who concluded Cragun is unfit mentally to proceed with his case.

Past coverage:

Dec. 20: 1 dead, 3 injured in Bayview hammer attack

Idaho murder suspect to get mental eval

A 26-year-old woman accused of killing her uncle in St. Maries, Idaho, will undergo a mental evaluation.

 Melisa R. Bates could be heard yelling uncontrollably from her holding cell upstairs from the Benewah County courthouse Wednesday, according to KHQ.

Bates was to be arraigned on a murder charge, but that has been postponed 30 days as she completed a mental health evaluation. Bates will be held at a mental health institution in Lewiston, KHQ reports.

Bates was arrested near Bayview Tuesday after deputies found the burned remains of her uncle, Robert Dean Marek, 43, while checking to see why he didn't show up for work.

A motive for the slaying has not been released.

Steele will undergo mental health exam

The former Aryan Nations lawyer accused of hiring a man to kill his wife will undergo a mental health examination.

Edgar J. Steele, 65, is to be evaluated by a licensed psychologist Friday at the Ada County Jail in Boise.

Psychologist Robert Engle is to submit a report by April 13 detailing Steele's “physical well-being, psychological functioning and mental health condition” currently and at the time police say Steele hired Larry Fairfax to kill his wife, Cyndi Steele, according to an order by U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

Prosecutors requested the mental evaluation after Steele's lawyers filed a notice saying they intend to introduce expert evidence regarding a mental disease or defect that has “bearing on (Steele's) guilt or his lack of a knowing or intentional mental state.”

Cyndi Steele has said she believes her husband is innocent and that tapes reportedly containing recorded conversations between Steele and Fairfax were manufactured by the federal government.

The Steeles say the case is an attempt to silence Edgar Steele, self described “attorney for the damned,” because of his unpopular views.

Steele is to stand trial April 26 in U.S. District Court in Boise.

Read past coverage here.

Dumpster hideout prompts mental exam

A man hid in the back of a garbage truck near East Wenatchee on Tuesday, prompting authorities to take him to receive mental health treatment.

The site manager of the Waste Management Land Fill, 191 S. Webb Ave.,saw the man crawl out of the back of a garbage tuck as employees were dumping it into the land fill.

The man was not injured. He told Douglas County sheriff's deputies he was ridding in the dumpster “to escape people who were chasing him,” accoridng to a news release.

A deputy drove the man to a hosptial for a mental health evaluation. He does not face criminal charges.

Report: Gunman was volatile, explosive

A gunman killed in a shootout with police last week had attempted suicide several times, been hospitalized at Eastern State Hospital and was described as “volatile and explosive” in a state psychiatrist’s report two years ago.

Ethan A. Corporon saw drug-induced images of aliens and spaceships, dreamed of killing himself with a shotgun and described intense mood swings that experts said made him dangerous and likely to commit crimes, according to a June 2008 report by Dr. William Grant, forensic psychiatrist at Eastern State Hospital.

In a 2005 interview with another doctor, Corporon said “what do I have to do to get some attention, kill someone?” and said he had access to a shotgun.

Read my full story here.

Elton to get court-ordered mental evaluation

The mental state of a Spokane County commission candidate is in question.

 A week before filing for office Friday, civic gadfly David H. Elton was ordered by Spokane County Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno to undergo mental evaluations to determine whether he’s competent to stand trial on harassment charges related to threatening e-mails sent last year to Spokane City Council President Joe Shogan and to Betsy Cowles, chairwoman of the Cowles Co., which owns The Spokesman-Review.

Elton’s trial, previously set to begin June 28, is on hold pending his mandatory mental health evaluation, Deputy Prosecutor Dale Nagy said.

Read the rest of my story here.

Previous coverage:

April 15: Elton avoids jail after violating court orders

April 3: Elton’s wife donated to Stevens’ campaign

Jan. 21: Trial set for Elton on threat charges

Feb. 12, 2009: ‘Murder’ email meant as joke, suspect says

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