SANTA BARBARA – In the last day of testimony, David Attias took the stand in his own hearing where a judge will decide if he can be released from a state mental hospital.
In 2001 Attias hit and killed four people with his car in Isla Vista but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He has been at Patton State Hospital for the past decade.
The hearing started May 29 and Attias took the stand on Wednesday and Thursday, the seventh and eighth day of the hearing.
"Are you mentally ill?" asked Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman on Thursday.
"Yes, I am," responded Attias.
"Do you agree your mental illness is severe?" Waldman asked.
"Yes, I do," said Attias.
He acknowledged he is bipolar, has a personality disorder and has mood and impulsivity issues, but after 10 years at Patton, Attias said he is ready to move out of the locked facility and into the community with supervision.
But Deputy District Attorney Waldman brought up an issue that had his recommendation for release revoked once before. Attias made phone calls and sent five letters to a patient's sister; a woman he did not know.
The last of the letters was sexually explicit and the woman contacted authorities.
"It just got me really worried and scared with his persistence to want to meet me and be in a relationship with me," said Ashley Brown, the woman who received the letters.
She told the court she would not feel safe if Attias was released.
"What made you think this was an appropriate thing to write to a woman who you had never met or spoken to before?" Waldman asked Attias.
"I used really poor judgment," he responded.
During his testimony the deputy district attorney asked him if he has reached out to the victim's families to offer an apology. Two of the victims' families have been in the courtroom for the nearly two week long hearing.
Attias said he hadn't because he didn't want to hurt the families anymore than he already had.
During the closing arguments, Public Defender Deedrea Edgar said Attias' treatment at the state hospital has worked and he should continue to get treatment but this time in the community release program also known as CONREP.
"CONREP is not a release from David Attias' commitment to the state of California," Edgar told the court on Thursday. "If granted CONREP treatment, David Attias will remain in a lifetime commitment controlled by this very state, overseen by this court."
Deputy District Attorney Waldman argued Attias' dangerous and violent past is a good indicator of the future if he is let out of the state hospital.
"David Attias destroyed the lives of four innocent people and permanently damaged the life of a fifth all in an instant," she said. "The law provides that although he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, because of the horrible crimes he committed he must spend the rest of his life in a locked state hospital system, unless or until he can prove to this court that it is more likely than not that he no longer presents any danger."
In her response to Waldman's closing argument, Edgar said there is no evidence of danger.
Judge Thomas Adams will make his decision by next week if Attias will remain at Patton State Hospital or be released into the community outpatient treatment center. The ruling will be in a written document that will first be sent out to the two attorneys.
Wednesday, June 5 2013 5:40 PM EDT2013-06-05 21:40:27 GMT
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