- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

MARYSVILLE, Wash. (AP) - A Washington state judge has ordered that a mentally ill murder suspect be released from jail or admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

Snohomish County prosecutors on Thursday said they were looking at alternatives to prevent the release of Todd Brodahl, reported The Daily Herald (https://bit.ly/1LMlXOg ), including calling state officials and asking the state Attorney General’s Office to bump up the inmate’s place on the waiting list at Western State Hospital. The Attorney General’s Office usually resists such requests.

“We’re doing everything we can to see that he receives the treatment he needs and protect the public,” said Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Elise Deschenes.

Other mentally ill inmates have been released because of delayed admissions at the Western State Hospital, even though a federal court has ordered that they accept inmates within seven days. The state Department of Social and Health Services has pleaded for more time to improve the system, arguing that conditions outside of its control have slowed its progress to have more open beds.

Brodahl is accused of beating and stabbing 18-year-old Brady Sheary to death in 2002, but his prosecution was stalled for more than a decade while he was treated for schizoaffective disorder. He spent most of that time under civil commitment at Western State Hospital.

Prosecutors refiled the murder charge after learning in January that the hospital was planning to release Brodahl, 32, to a group home. Brodahl was promptly moved to the Snohomish County Jail and the civil commitment was resolved because of the new criminal charge, according to his attorney, Natalie Tarantino.

“It’s unfortunate that the state didn’t make sure that Todd was competent before they refiled the charge,” said Tarantino. “It has taken years of care to get him to function at a minimal level. I don’t believe he can be restored or that he’ll ever be competent to stand trial.”

In January, two state psychologists said Brodahl had made significant progress and would be able to assist Tarantino in defending the murder charge. But they also said he would likely need additional medication to deal with the stress of court hearings, among other assistance.

In jail, Brodahl’s symptoms appeared to worsen. A state psychiatrist attempted to evaluate him on March 11 and noted that his mental health had declined over the past few months, likely because of the stress of jail, a lack of access to certain medications and a lack of access to exercise, mental and social stimulation.

Court papers say Brodahl’s symptoms didn’t allow for a full exam, but the psychiatrist wrote that he was no longer able to understand the charge and assist his lawyer.

Brady Sheary’s mother, Tammy Sheary, says she is worried that Brodahl will be released without any restrictions or a plan to make sure he receives his medication.

“I wish I could ask Judge Bowden who he is sending to protect my family come Tuesday if Todd Brodahl is set free,” she said.

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Information from: The Daily Herald, https://www.heraldnet.com

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