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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: schizophrenia

Morbid question leads to legal oddity

Questions about whether an accused killer had sex with his victim before or after she was dead has led to the suspect's lawyer being named a witness in the case.

A judge ruled Monday that defense attorney Chris Bugbee will continue to represent accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg (pictured in February).

Bugbee has a different recollection of what his client said during a mental health exam regarding when he had sex with the victim than the doctors, putting the defense lawyer in the unusual position of having to present Strandberg’s legal defense as well as present testimony as a sworn witness.

Because of that potential conflict, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen to remove Bugbee as Strandberg’s attorney. The judge rejected it.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Jury to decide Cole Strandberg’s fate

A Spokane County jury will now decide whether Cole K. Strandberg should face the prospect of life imprisonment or indefinite commitment to a mental institution after a judge concluded he was sane in 2008 when he shot a woman with a crossbow. 

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen was highly critical of the review of Strandberg’s case by mental health professionals at Eastern State Hospital, but found that the 24-year-old mentally ill man probably was not insane on Jan. 7, 2008, when authorities said he killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron.

“I cannot find… that Mr. Strandberg was insane at the time of the act,” Eitzen said. “But the question should be submitted to the jury.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 16, 2011: Strandberg trial testimony questions mental evaluations

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Strandberg to Bugbee: ‘I have a wife’

Accused killer Cole K. Strandberg has done little during the two days he's spent in Judge Tari Etizen's courtroom. 

But on Monday, he made sure his marital status was clear.

 After his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, (left) asked a neuropsychologist about discussions of Strandberg's mystical world and plans by the defendant's fictitious wife for a trip to Europe, Strandberg blurted out, “I have a wife, asshole.” 

It was another bizarre moment in a court hearing set to determine if Strandberg can stand trial for January 2008 crossbow slaying of Jennifer Bergeron, or if he should be found not guilty to be reason of insanity.

“He says he was married in Las Vegas Washington, so there are no records in this world,” Dr. Craig Beaver testified on Monday. “He’ll just go to another time or his wife will come get him and take him to Europe. So (the criminal charge) just doesn’t matter.”

Strandberg has his wrists bolted to the courtroom table and his legs bolted to his chair.

On Tuesday, he wore a face mask at Bugbee's request. Strandberg had spit in the lawyer's face at the end of Monday's hearing.

Strandberg is pictured up top on Tuesday.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Body in Spokane River is missing man

Police have identified a body found in the Spokane River on Saturday as a mentally ill man who was reported missing last week.

The body of Patrick Willard, 66, was found under the Monroe Street Bridge on Saturday afternoon. Detectives are investigating, police said today.

Police last Tuesday asked for help in locating Willard, who suffered from dementia and schizophrenia, officers said.

He was last seen Dec. 7 in the 3400 block of East 30th Avenue.

Tips sought on missing man w/ dementia

Spokane police are asking for help finding a 66-year-old man last seen in the 3400 block of East 30th Avenue on Monday. 

Patrick Willard has dementia and schizophrenia, according to police. He was last seen wearing a red flannel jacket, jeans and a baseball cap. Police say he likely is on foot.

Willard is 5-foot-9 and 100 pounds with long dark hair and a long gray beard.

Anyone with information on his location is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Family of man in river: ‘Heartbreaking’

A man found dead in the Spokane River on Sunday had a long history of mental illness and likely committed suicide, family said on Monday. 

Peter L. Jose, 34, had schizophrenia but regularly skipped his medication and frequently threatened to harm himself, said Mary Lee Gaston, mother of Jose’s ex-wife.

Gaston’s daughter, who also has schizophrenia, left Jose about a year ago, and he hadn’t seen their young daughter in months because of his ongoing struggle with his mental health, Gaston said.

Gaston learned of Jose’s death Monday after an autopsy by the Spokane County medical examiner’s office.

“It’s just heartbreaking, but it’s just totally out of our hands,” Gaston said. “When people are very, very mentally ill, they have another world they live in. And poor Peter did.”

Read the rest of my story here.

Jose is pictured during theater performances in 2000 and 2006. He was active in the now closed On Stage! theater group.

Insanity defense explored in ‘08 murder

The aggravated murder trial of accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg will proceed in January following a hearing to allow his defense attorney to present a case that his client should be acquitted because he is insane. 

Defense attorney Chris Bugbee asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen Tuesday for what amounts to a mini-trial on Jan. 5 to present evidence about his client’s mental state at the time of the killing. Strandberg has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Eitzen reluctantly agreed, but said the January trial date is “written in concrete.”

Strandberg, who was featured earlier this year in a Discovery Channel episode of “Behind Bars,” is charged with sexually assaulting and using a crossbow to kill 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron on Jan. 7, 2008.

Man in Murray threat held without bail

A Spokane man accused of threatening to kill U.S. Senator Patty Murray will remain in jail without bail, a judge ruled Monday.

John Jay Sieler, 50, is diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolarity and was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric ward before he drove by a U.S. senate candidates debate waving a meat cleaver (pictured) and shouting threats on Oct. 14, according to court testimony.

Sieler appeared in U.S. District Court Monday, where his lawyer, Jay McEntire, described him as a lifelong Spokane resident who owns a home and has worked at Dick’s Hamburgers for 29 years.

A 2006 court order prohibits Sieler from possessing firearms, but Sieler has admitted to having several in a storage unit in Spokane, prosecutors said.

U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ordered Sieler to stay in jail, citing his access to firearms, history of marijuana abuse and his need for a structured release plan.

Sieler was arrested last month outside KSPS studios, where Murray and Republican candidate Dino Rossi were scheduled to debate later that night. Sieler was given $500 bail at the Spokane County Jail for misdemeanor charges but rearrested last week on a federal charge of threatening a federal official.

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