Category Archives: Mental Health Issues

Mustard Trial Update: Prosecutors Close to Resting Case

The prosecution of Daniel J. Mustard for the murder of Ruby Andrews continues this week in Kitsap County Superior Court.

Prosecutors are continuing to put witnesses on the stand that back up deputy prosecutor Kevin Kelly’s opening argument: that the killing was an “act of greed and violence,” and Mustard told many others of the brutal homicide and how he’d committed it. That includes people he was with the day of the murder and jail inmates he’d told after he was arrested, as well as several hours of telephone calls being played for jurors.

The case hinges upon Mustard’s mental state at the time of the crime. There is no dispute of the fact that Mustard stabbed Ruby Andrews, 87 to death at her South Kitsap home on April 5, 2009.

Deputy prosecutor Kevin Hull told me Tuesday that the prosecution is close to closing its own case and that could happen as early as Thursday.

On Monday, the defense plans to call Dr. Mark Whitehill to the stand, Hull said. Keep in mind that defense attorney Bryan Hershman bears the burden to prove to jurors that while Mustard committed the act, his mental state was diminished to the point he couldn’t comprehend his actions.

That means that once the defense finishes with its case, prosecutors will be able to rebut the insanity argument — and plans to do so sometime after Thanksgiving with nationally known forensic expert Dr. Park Dietz.

We will keep you posted on the trial’s developments.

Report: Mentally Ill Three Times as Likely to Go to Prison Than Hospital

“Deinstitutionalization,” the report reads, ” … has been one of the most well-meaning but poorly planned social changes ever carried out in the United States.”

The emptying of mental hospitals in the latter part of the 20th century was hailed for both cutting government costs and “liberating” the people inside. But for the most serious mentally ill, the move was a disaster, says a recently published by the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Among their findings: Washingtonians who suffer from mental illness are three times as likely to be incarcerated than to be in a mental health treatment center. Also: In 1955, there was one psychiatric bed for every 300 Americans; in 2005, there was one for every 3,000 Americans.

And here in Kitsap? I have only anecdotal evidence. In a recent conversation I had with Ned Delmore, head of Kitsap County’s Juvenile Department, he told me that daily, a large tray moves through the juvenile detention center, carrying psychotropic drugs for those housed inside. And in many criminal cases I cover, mental health issues are raised — though I am not professionally trained in deciphering which claims are legitimate, and which are not.

Andrew Binion, former Kitsap Sun reporter and current editor at the Central Kitsap Reporter, wrote a story in March 2008 about this very predicament, documenting three local cases. In part, he said:

“While the three cases shed light on inconsistencies with how the criminal justice and health care system deals with mentally ill suspects, they also square with what mental health advocates have said for years — that jails and prisons have become warehouses for the mentally ill.”

Binion writes that Kitsap Mental Health Services has programs for such patients. But there is too great an “overflow,” that spills into jails and prisons — places ill-equipped to treat the mentally ill.

The Treatment Advocacy Center’s report says we’ve come full circle:

“the situation faced by individuals with serious mental illnesses today is remarkably similar to individuals with serious mental illnesses in the 1840s—a shortage of psychiatric beds and an abundance of jail and prison cells. If Dorothea Dix came back today, she would feel right at home.”

So what does the report suggest as a solution? I’ll let you read it.

Final Jails v Hospitals Study