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Man charged in death of security hospital patient
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - A mentally ill patient at the Minnesota Security Hospital was charged with murder Friday, accused of stomping on another patient’s head as many as 30 times because he was angry at staff and felt he needed to assault someone to get their attention, a criminal complaint said.
Douglas, 41, who had been convicted of murder in the 1990s, was found lying in his room Wednesday night with severe head trauma. He died of his injuries.
Scott Cutcher, Nicollet County’s public defender, said his office had not received any paperwork by Friday afternoon and he had no comment.
According to the criminal complaint, Whitefeather told police he was angry with staff because he wanted to see a doctor.
“Defendant … concluded that in order to get staff attention, he needed to assault someone, and he selected Douglas,” the complaint said.
Whitefeather told police he had no prior issues with Douglas, but at about 6 p.m. Wednesday he entered Douglas‘ room and punched him in the face. Whitefeather told police that when Douglas fell to the floor, he stomped on Douglas‘ head maybe 30 times, the complaint said.
The charges say that at about 7:30 p.m., Whitefeather told a security counselor he wanted to see a doctor, and when he was referred to nursing staff, he said: “How do you guys expect me not to hurt people if you don’t help me?”
Another security counselor heard Whitefeather say he had done “something bad” and “had to get his anger out,” the complaint said.
Another security counselor told police that at one point Whitefeather had asked for laundry detergent. After hearing of the assault, this security counselor found tennis shoes that appeared to have blood on them in a washing machine.
The Minnesota Security Hospital is the state’s largest psychiatric facility and serves people who are committed as mentally ill or mentally ill and dangerous.
Department of Human Services Deputy Commissioner Anne Barry said in a statement Thursday that Douglas‘ death was under review. A joint commission that accredits health care organizations is also analyzing how something like this could have happened.
The department declined to comment on the statements Whitefeather gave to police.
According to his commitment order in Beltrami County District Court, Whitefeather suffers from paranoid schizophrenia that “has severely-disordered his thought process resulting in bizarre and aggressive behaviors.”
He was committed in October as a mentally ill person after a judge found him incompetent to stand trial on a burglary charge. Friday’s criminal complaint says he moved to the unit where the assault took place about two weeks ago, the unit for the most dangerous patients.
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