Judge holds off assessment of hospital escapee's competence

AP News
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Posted: Apr 11, 2016 7:32 PM
Judge holds off assessment of hospital escapee's competence

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — It's impossible at this moment to determine the mental competence of an escapee from Washington's largest state psychiatric hospital who was captured on Friday night, a judge said Monday.

U.S. Magistrate James P. Hutton ordered that Anthony Garver, 28, remain in custody until his competence could be established. A disheveled-looking Garver was wearing chains as he appeared for the first time in federal court on a charge of violating supervised release.

His attorney, Peter Schweda, said it would be unfair to make Garver, also known as Anthony Burke, enter a plea at this time. Garver's next court appearance is April 21.

"The court is not in a position to gauge his competence," Schweda said.

Garver escaped last week from Western State Hospital in Lakewood, Washington, where he was being held after he was accused of torturing a 20-year-old woman to death in 2013.

The state Department of Social and Health Services initially reported that Garver and fellow patient Mark Alexander Adams escaped through a key-locked window. There were no indications that the locks were defective, and officials suspected that the patients tampered with the bolts over several months, said Kathy Spears, an agency spokeswoman.

On Saturday, hospital officials sent an internal email to staff asking them to check the windows on their wards, according to an email thread obtained by The Associated Press.

Staff reported that 17 windows were compromised in wards E-6 and E-4, the emails said. Three windows had loose bolts and four had loose window panes on the E-4 ward, the staff reported. Ten windows were loose and could be pulled from the frames, or the frames themselves were loose on the E-6 ward, the emails said.

On Monday, Susan Benson, with the hospital administration, said she submitted a work request to have the windows repaired, the email said.

It was not immediately known how many other windows were not secure at the 800-bed facility.

Garver was recaptured in a rural part of Spokane County after a two-day, cross-state manhunt that some worried would not end peacefully.

Garver escaped from Western State Hospital in Lakewood on Wednesday night. He crawled out a window of a locked, lower-security unit with Adams, 58, who was caught the next day.

Garver was charged in 2013 with tying a 20-year-old woman to her bed with electrical cords, stabbing her 24 times in the chest and slashing her throat, prosecutors said. He was committed to the mental hospital to receive treatment to have his competency restored. When those efforts were unsuccessful, the state petitioned to have him held under the state's civil commitment law, which states he is a danger to himself or others. A judge granted that request.

After Garver escaped, he bought a bus ticket to Spokane, where his parents live. His father called authorities to report his son had stopped by Thursday for a visit, triggering the manhunt that led to his capture.

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Bellisle reported from Seattle.