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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

Man in wife’s murder is competent for trial

A Stevens County man accused of killing his wife has been declared competent to stand trial after undergoing mental evaluations at Eastern State Hospital.

Craig R. Cosby pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder last week. Trial is set for August.

Cosby was 68 when called 911 on Oct. 3 and said he killed his wife.

He was arrested in the front yard of his home in the 1200 block of Overlook Boulevard in Marcus, a small town along the Columbia River in northern Stevens County.

Susan May Cosby, 53, was found dead of gunshot wounds in the home, and her husband was soon ordered to under mental evaluations.

In his weekly column to media, Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen said “a large number of items of physical evidence” still are being examined at the sate crime lab.

Past coverage: Oct. 20: Man held in wife’s murder taken to Eastern

Insanity leads to acquittal in machete attack

A man arrested in a machete attack that sliced a Spokane teenager last summer has been acquitted of the crime by reason of insanity.

Douglas W. Harmon, the brother of the man who went on an apparent LSD-fueled shooting spree in Spokane in 1971, was accused of attacking a teenage couple with the blade outside Harmon’s Spokane apartment June 17.

Eddie Ramsey required more than 100 stitches after the machete sliced his face from his life ear to his jaw, shattered a bone in his life wrist and took a chunk out of his hair

Harmon was charged with assault but quickly transported from the jail to Eastern State Hospital. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on April 14, and Judge Ellen Kalama Clark acquitted him that day, according to court records.

His brother, Larry Harmon was 21 when he stormed St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church with a .22-caliber rifle Nov. 11, 1971, killing a janitor and injuring four others before being shot to death by police.

The men’s late father, E. Glenn Harmon, was a journalist and prominent Spokane attorney who represented The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle.

Past coverage:

June 24: Suspect in machete attack is brother of GU gunman

June 18: Machete victim: ‘I thought I was going to die’

‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant to stand trial

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been released from a hospital and will face trial.

Dan Noble, 31, (left) has been declared fit to stand trial by doctors at Eastern State Hospital, said Whitman County Prosecutor Denis Tracy.

He is charged with two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit and run and misdemeanor resisting arrest after being arrested in December.

Drivers on the highway between Moscow and Pullman reported Noble’s car driving erratically in the westbound lanes Monday morning, according to previously published reports.

Noble then turned onto Stadium Way, the main street through the WSU campus, where he allegedly struck students Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman, and Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., in crosswalks about a block apart, according to the Associated Press. Both pedestrians suffered a broken leg and other injuries.

Noble then reportedly stopped and exited the vehicle at the intersection of Stadium Way and Grimes Way, about 175 yards from the second victim.

When WSU police approached him, Noble became “argumentative, incoherent, and resistive,” documents said. Officers used a Taser to subdue him.

Noble’s arraignment is set for April 9, court records show.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, has previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

Wa Lege Day 57: Bill prompted by escape passes

OLYMPIA — Patients at state mental institutions who have been judged criminally insane will be limited in the reasons that they can leave for field trips or other reasons.

The House of Representatives gave final passage Monday to House Bill 2717, which is designed to prevent instances like the escape last September of accused murderer Phillip Paul during an Eastern State Hospital field trip to the Spokane County Fair.

The bill limits patients who have been found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity from trips away from the hospital that don’t involve medical treatment or a family emergency. It was sponsored by Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley and received near unanimous support at step of the process. It now goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature.

Paul, who was found criminally insane for a 1987 murder of a 78-year-old Sunnyside woman, was among a group of about 30 patients on a field trip to the fair when he escaped on Sept. 17. He was captured three days later in Klickitat County.

WA Lege Day 53: 2 ‘Philip Paul’ bills pass

OLYMPIA — Two bills sparked by an Eastern State Hospital patient’s escape during a Spokane County Fair field trip last September moved easily through the Senate Thursday.

Philip Paul was part of an Eastern State group visiting the fair when he slipped away from the other patients and staff, and left the fairgrounds. Police were not notified for hours that Paul, who was at Eastern State after being found not guilty by reason of insanity of a murder charge,escaped and was loose in the community. He was captured three days later, near Yakima.

House Bill 2422, requires hospital staff to contact law enforcement after an escape, passed 47-0. and goes to Gov. Chris Gregoire for her signature. “When a convicted murderer escapes and no one takes responsibility, something is wrong,” Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, said.

House Bill 2717, which limits the opportunities for criminally insane patients to leave state hospitals unless approved by a judge or for a family emergency, passed 48-0. It returns to the House because of minor amendments included in the Senate version.


Accused killer ‘severely disturbed’

A 24-year-old accused killer is not mentally competent to be tried for the crossbow slaying of a Spokane woman two years ago, a judge ruled today.

Cole K. Strandberg, charged with first-degree murder for the Jan. 7, 2008 slaying of 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron, has a “long, long standing history of being severely, severely disturbed,” said Spokane County Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen.

“He needs to be and he must be involuntarily medicated,” Eitzen said.

Eitzen rejected claims from Eastern State Hospital doctors that Strandberg was either faking the symptoms or had experienced methamphetamine-induced psychosis.

She said the two-day competency hearing showed Dr. Randall Strandquist left out crucial information in his reports, causing her to reject that evaluation and focus on the past reports themselves.

She also rejected Dr. William Grant’s suggestion that Strandberg had been faking his mental illness for years to create a defense for murder.

There’s too much information in evaluations beginning in 2002 to suggest Strandberg was lying about his condition, Eitzen said.

Strandberg, who is accused of assaulting and harassing jailers and court officials, has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

Strandberg is fascinated with Nazi, swastikas and World War II and refuses to work with his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, because he thinks Bugbee is Jewish, Eitzen said.

“Also Mexican,” Strandberg interrupted. He said nothing else.

Past coverage: Strandberg’s parents struggled to get him treatment

Deputy remembers his slain niece

Strandberg says he wants to plead guilty