Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another "Probably not taking his medicine"

It is always about the medicine, isn't it.

It took Cincinnati Police just over 24-hours to apprehend a suspect in Tuesday's fatal stabbing of 93-year-old Ida Martin of Roselawn.

When James House, III was finally in custody Wednesday night, detectives realized it wasn't the first time their paths had crossed.

What emerged from court records stirred angry emotions from people from Roselawn to Golf Manor.

House was arrested in 1998 for allegedly stabbing three different Roselawn women. Only one case made it to trial, but House was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He spent 10 years in treatment and was released in 2008.

In the Martin case, House is charged with murder. His bond was set at $1 million Thursday in Hamilton County Municipal Court.

Martin was stabbed four times while on her daily walk her her Summit Road apartment. Police said the trail led to House because of good investigative work, information from witnesses and evidence gathered at the scene. A steak knife was among the items recovered.

After leaving Summit Behavioral Center last year, House moved into a second floor apartment in the 2400 block of Losantiville Road in Golf Manor.

Neighbor Joe Dunham said House acted strangely and was a loner who didn't interact with anyone.

"You'd see him once or twice a week," Dunham stated. "You'd say 'How you doing?' He'd just keep walking with his headphones on -- like he had tunnel vision."

Cincinnati Police needed the assistance of officers from Golf Manor and the Hamilton County SWAT team to take House into custody Wednesday night.

"The guy wouldn't come out," said Dunham. "I let them know I seen him moving upstairs -- heard some footsteps -- that he was there."

Dunham said he was terrified to learn of House's prior criminal record and history of mental illness. That's because Dunham's mother lives with him.

"I was thinking about my mother. What would have happened if I wasn't there," he reflected. "Thinking about my neighbors. They're both ladies in an elderly fashion."

Attorney Peter Rosenwald represented House in 1998 and said when he was taking his required medicines he was a cooperative client.

"Most people with mental illness are never cured," Rosenwald added. "They're treated. It's controlled through medicine and therapy."

People might wonder why House was released back into the community. Rosenwald said under the law the maximum time he could be kept in treatment was 10 years -- the same sentence he could have gotten for attempted murder.

Asked why his former client might have committed another serious crime, Rosenwald said he could only speculate.

"My thinking is he probably was not taking his meds," he theorized. "I think the mental illness came back on him."

Roselawn community leaders questioned how House could have been judged mentally healthy enough to return to the population at-large.

"Justice will be served -- this time," said Minister Nate Mobley of the Powerhouse Deliverance Center Ministries. "I think it should have been closely looked at the first time.."

"We were just shocked and amazed that it was the same person who had some clinical treatment," said Michael Watson of the Roselawn Community Council. "Evidently, it didn't work."

However, Watson refused to blame the system for House's release. His bigger worry is people in the community stepping up to help stop crime.

"All I can be concerned about is people who saw it happen and didn't do anything. People who saw it happen and didn't say anything. People who had their windows open and closed their window," he said.

Both Watson and Mobley said a crime like Martin's death could happen in any neighborhood.

"We don't want to be looked at or viewed as a place that's not a good place to reside," Mobley pleaded.

Martin's family issued a statement Thursday which read, in part, "Our family is truly appreciative of the Roselawn community and all those who assisted in the quick arrest of Ida Martin's alleged assailant. This is now in the hands of the justice system. Our family will continue to cope with the loss by by honoring and cherishing the loving memories of Ida."


Diane J Standiford said...

Blame it on the meds. Geezch

Just Me said...

Here is another case that causes the stigma and fear of mental illness. It saddens me to see such a tragedy. Mental illness is an evil beast of burden. It is horrific to see someone commit a crime and to think it is because they didn't take their medicine? Some part of me just cannot believe this. Unfortunately I have have had to go with out medicine but I cannot see myself ever harming another person. This is very sad.

Liz said...

So just out of curiosity, why do you think this man did commit this crime?

PMMF Custodian said...

I don't think mental illness can be soley attributed to such acts of violence, except perhaps in cases of severe schizophrenia. Many violent offenders are, in fact, mentally ill, but they also have a number of factors in their backgrounds and environmental upbringing that add up to the propensity for extreme violence.

So for this sloppily reported news article to lead readers to the conclusion that because this guy simply wasn't taking his meds, he started stabbing people again is, to me, irresponsibly misleading.

It's the kind of predjudiced, unscientific and knee-jerk analysis that used to cause folks with mental illness to be snatched and committed to asylums simply because someone deemed them to be "dangerous."

My two cents, for whatever it's worth. Nice blog, BTW. Just happened across it a minute ago ...