WA Killer’s Case A Test of Law on Hospitalization vs. Prison


More than three years after Isaac Zamora went on a rampage in Washington state, killing six people, including a sheriff’s deputy and a friend, prosecutors and defense attorneys are preparing for what may be the final legal battle, reports the Seattle Times. A bench trial next month will determine whether Zamora will remain a hospital patient or be transferred to prison to serve four life sentences.

The state Department of Social and Health Services wants the 31-year-old to be imprisoned, saying he poses a security risk and no longer requires hospital-based psychiatric treatment. The case is a test of a 2010 law that allows the state to request that mentally ill criminal offenders such as Zamora be imprisoned rather than treated indefinitely at a state mental hospital. Criminal defendants who are found not guilty by reason of insanity are sent to the forensic unit of a state hospital for treatment. So-called forensic patients, after treatment, can petition the courts for release if their mental health is stabilized to the point that they could re-enter society. A judge makes the decision, with input from the state’s mental-health experts and attorneys.

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