A man diagnosed as schizophrenic and committed to a mental hospital after being found innocent by reason of insanity in a 1987 slaying will not be released for at least a month.
Phillip Arnold Paul, 41, has been held at Eastern State Hospital near Spokane since 2001, when Yakima County prosecutors said he suffered a relapse during a six-month release.
Paul was first committed 16 years ago for strangling 78-year-old Ruth Mottley, a Sunnyside activist and philanthropist.
He told sheriff’s deputies investigating the case that voices in his head told him Mottley was a witch and ordered her death. He led deputies to a grave where he’d buried her outside her home.
He has been treated for years with drugs and has been seeking the chance to return to his parents’ home in Sunnyside, contending that medication and counseling have made him safe to return to society.
In a hearing Thursday, Yakima County Superior Court Judge Michael Leavitt decided community safeguards were currently insufficient to allow Paul’s release from the hospital.
Administrators at Eastern State Hospital have recommended Paul be allowed to return home, said Dan Arnold, a lawyer representing Paul and his family.
Eastern State Hospital now has a month to come up with a plan that would allow Paul to return home and ensure that he is closely monitored.