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Public Concerned Over Release of David Attias

David Attias, 18, has spent more than ten years in a secured mental hospital in California after being found legally insane at the time when he drove into and killed four pedestrians in 2001. Now, however, Attias is being transferred to a less-restrictive facility, raising questions of whether his release is safe or fair, explained a California car accident lawyer


At present, eleven years since Attias was committed to Patton State Mental Hospital, there is once again controversy surrounding the case. The question that exists now is whether he should be released to a less strict facility and, especially, whether he should soon have the opportunity to once again be declared sane and left without restrictions. 


To determine the answer to whether he should be released, a special hearing was held in June of 2012 in which expert witnesses testified about his current mental state. The public defender representing Attias at the hearing presented evidence that he had not had a single manic or psychotic episode while at Patton. Evidence also showed he had not hallucinated at all; he had participated in counseling and twelve step programs; he had passed all drug tests; he had taken his medications; and he had never physically attacked anyone. 


The public defender also presented information that Attias had recently been re-diagnosed and that experts now believe that he committed his crime during a drug induced psychosis caused by self-medicating after stopping his anti-psychotic meds. Attias has also been diagnosed with a pervasive developmental disorder. Experts testifying on his behalf at trial indicated that he is now better able to manage his violent rages as long as he continues his medication. They believe he will keep taking his pills since he is described as “sincerely invested” in his recovery. 


Unfortunately, it is difficult or impossible to determine if Attias is truly “cured” enough. One issue is that he may be manipulating the experts, since he has had years to learn what they want him to say. Further, in 2008, Attias sent sexually explicit letters to a stranger. These letters were sent at a time when experts were ready to make a recommendation for his release to a less restrictive program; however, in light of his actions, this recommendation was not made at that time.  


Because Attias was so recently diagnosed and because of the letter incident, the prosecutor assigned to the case questioned how qualified the experts were. She also expressed concern that the Conditional Release Program would not be able to provide proper supervision for Attias and that the area where he would be living would be an area where drugs are openly sold. 


Although it was determined that Attias would be set free, these concerns are all valid. With such a long history of violent behavior and with such a recent diagnosis, it seems a great risk to release David Attias into a program providing minimal supervision. This is especially true in light of the previous times when David chose to go off his medication. Many citizens and professionals throughout California, as well as the parents of the victims, are therefore rightfully concerned about the release of this potentially dangerous man.   


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