Missouri man with schizophrenia acquitted in 2016 killing of Air Force veteran

Missouri man with schizophrenia acquitted in 2016 killing of Air Force veteran

Timothy Hagins, a 36-year-old man who killed an Air Force veteran in August 2016 and thereafter barged into a house 12 miles away, shouting, “I am here to slaughter the lambs,” has been pronounced not guilty by the judge because of his mental instability. He was legally insane at the time of killing the Air Force veteran, Tech Sgt. David Stechman, as he was off his medications, the judge ruled.

Hagins, who suffered from schizophrenia since the age of 23, turned violent once he stopped taking his medicines. Apparently, he killed the Air Force veteran in a fit of rage. He will serve an indefinite commitment at Colorado Mental Health Institute Pueblo (CMHIP). Although Hagins was undergoing treatment for schizophrenia for the last 10 years, he had no criminal antecedents. The incident was kind of an aberration that took people by surprise that he killed someone and terrorized a family in Elbert. The bench trial concluded that he was not in a stable state of mind at the time of committing the murder.

Change in medication triggered violence

Hagins’ father informed that his son was suffering from paranoid delusions on the day of incident when he drove from his house to Colorado Springs without any explanation. The family suspects that the recent change in his medication could have triggered violent tendencies in him. Out of his own choice, Hagins started consulting a new specialist who prescribed Klonopin for treating panic disorders.

Reportedly, any abrupt interruption in the medication is responsible for surging abnormal thoughts and hallucinations. He had earlier tried to hurt himself by setting himself on fire and through other means. According to the police, Hagins smothered and stabbed 56-year-old Stechman in his Falcon garage, using a vehicle ice scraper, wooden spatula, mop handle and a wooden dowel.

The judge, Theresa Cisneros, based her judgment on the sole testimony of Dr. Thomas Gray of the state hospital, who apprised the court that the detailed evaluation of Hagins by the state psychiatrists revealed that he could not differentiate between right and wrong and was not capable to form criminal intent qualifying for convictions. His attack on a nurse and two deputies of the sheriff after his arrest convinced the judge of his insanity, who acquitted him of felony charges.

To challenge the verdict, the prosecutors have to prove his sanity. Given the indefinite commitment to the state hospital, his future depends on his recovery from the mental illness and gravity of violence. As of now, he does not remember the incident but is aware of his role in the murder.

A stitch in time saves nine

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines schizophrenia as a “chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves.” Those who suffer from schizophrenia lose touch with reality, with symptoms much more disabling than other mental disorders. The symptoms of violence and dangerous behaviors have been observed among those grappling with the acute symptoms of psychosis.

They are prone to indulging in risky behaviors due to delusions and hallucinations. Other factors like delay in treatment, self-medication, etc. increase the risk of violence among people with schizophrenia and other mental disorders. Given the above repercussions of delay and interruption in treatment, it is necessary to treat schizophrenia on time. Generally, the treatment of schizophrenia include antipsychotic medicines, psychosocial treatments and coordinated specialty care (CSC).

The best way to deal with serious mental conditions like schizophrenia is to seek immediate treatment from any credible rehab. If you have a loved one suffering from schizophrenia, scout for good treatment centers for schizophrenia in your area. Early intervention always helps in managing symptoms and prevents any untoward happenings like the one mentioned above.

San Clemente based Sovereign Health provides effective treatment and recovery programs for schizophrenia. If you are looking for schizophrenia treatment or schizophrenia treatment centers in California, call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online for more information on our state-of-the-art schizophrenia treatment centers.

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