Homicide suspects still being treated at mental health facility

By Paula Horton, Tri-City HeraldDecember 4, 2012 

Suspects in the Tri-Cities' two homicides this year continue to be treated at a state mental health facility, but one man has been found competent and may return to court next week.

Adam Ryan Williams, 29, has been at Eastern State Hospital for almost 10 months while staff evaluated him and tried to restore his competency so he could stand trial.

The West Richland man is accused of brutally killing his 87-year-old grandmother, Viola Williams, in her Kennewick home Jan. 27, purportedly under God's direction.

Three months ago, he was found to have the capacity to understand court proceedings but lacked the ability to assist in his own defense.

The latest report, written Nov. 20 by psychologist Randall Strandquist and psychiatrist Dr. Sami Pateras, indicated that Adam Williams now is competent to stand trial because he understands court proceedings and can help in his defense.

But, Eastern State Hospital staff did not give an opinion as to whether he was sane at the time he allegedly committed the murder. A report is expected to be submitted to Benton County Superior Court by Monday and a hearing is set for Dec. 13 to review the sanity opinion, court documents show.

Pasco murder suspect Joseph William Hart also is undergoing a sanity evaluation at the Medical Lake facility. Experts are trying to determine if Hart lacked the ability to understand the nature of the offense or know right from wrong on March 6 when he allegedly stabbed his roommate to death.

Hart, 28, previously has been at Eastern State to determine if he was competent to stand trial. Staff found he was incompetent in some areas, and he was being treated with medications to try to restore his competency. He will stay at the psychiatric hospital until both evaluations are completed.

Hart, who could be facing a third strike and life in prison if convicted, has pleaded innocent in Franklin County Superior Court to second-degree murder. Court proceedings were stayed in April after defense attorney Scott Johnson requested a mental health evaluation for his client.

Rodger A. Lincoln and Hart both lived in a home at the Sundance Mobile Home Park that is owned by Lourdes Health Network. Lincoln, 53, died of multiple stab wounds to his head and torso from a hunting-type knife, officials said.

The order for Hart's sanity evaluation was signed last week by a Franklin County judge, court documents show. No new hearings have been set in the case.

Williams is charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree murder, but his case has been on hold since his first appearance Jan. 30.

He has been at Eastern State Hospital since Feb. 8 and has a history of mental health issues.

In 2006, Williams was found "not guilty by reason of insanity" for a third-degree assault against a corrections officer in Franklin County. He was held for the maximum five years allowed by the charge and released from the facility to a "Less Restrictive Alternative." He was out of custody for about six months before being arrested in his grandmother's death.

According to the most recent evaluation, Strandquist and Pateras said Williams has made significant progress with his treatment, and they considered the remission of his psychotic symptoms to be "about as good as it gets," documents said.

He previously displayed high anxiety levels and was unable to detach from delusional beliefs, but they said he has improved and now does acknowledge he has a mental illness.

Some symptoms, however, still remain, including Williams' belief that he can telepathically send and receive messages to God and others.

"We anticipated that, even at his best, this would remain a symptom," the report said. "There is no evidence that indicates his belief in telepathy impairs his ability to function."

During his Nov. 16 interview, Williams said he believed he can telepathically send messages to his defense attorney, Sal Mendoza Jr., but the report indicated there was no evidence he tried to do that during the interview.

Williams told them that he verbalizes his thoughts to people when they are present, but also said "if he were not in the presence of Mr. Mendoza and wanted him to know something important, he would not depend upon telepathy to communicate" with Mendoza, documents said.

Williams, who earlier had said he should go to prison because God wanted him to, now told Strandquist and Pateras that he didn't believe he should be in prison, and he thought the most likely outcome to his case would be a finding of "not guilty by reason of insanity," the report said.

"When asked about his change of mind, Mr. Williams said, 'I've been doing a lot of thinking,' and said that he did not want to be in prison with 'rough guys' and such. He said that God 'definitely' agrees with his current choice," documents said.

The experts said they believed Williams' desire to be found "not guilty by reason of insanity" demonstrates a rational insight into his current situation.

They did, however, also say that Williams does have a mental disease, is a substantial danger to others and presents a substantial likelihood of committing criminal acts jeopardizing public safety or security unless kept under further control of the court or institutions.

-- Paula Horton: 582-1556; phorton@tricityherald.com

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