NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - This morning an annual commitment hearing keeps a former Nacogdoches resident at Rusk State Hospital. The institution has been home for Donald Davis since 1985 following the 1983 stomping death of Ricky Lee Wilburn. Davis was found not guilty for reason of insanity.
Over the decades little has changed in determining if a committed mentally ill person can be returned to society. In 1998, Davis made a physical appearance at his mental health hearing.
"Now a days we don't do that any more, " said Nicole Lostracco, Nacogdoches County District Attorney. "We are able to waive him actually from attending his hearings in Nacogdoches so he can stay at the hospital that he's housed at and continue his treatment; continuing his course of medication, that sort of thing which, of course, is the greatest assistance in his treatment and therapy," explained Lostracco.
At one hearing Davis broke out into a hyena type laugh. Psychiatrists testified it's just one symptom of Davis' psychotic and delusional personality that led to the stomping death.
"And he is still, to this day, exhibiting the same symptoms and delusions that he was exhibiting when he committed the offense," said Lostracco. "Because of that there's just no way it's safe to release him back into society."
Only once, in 1997, Rusk Hospital doctors said Davis was mentally competent and should be released. At the time, Lostracco successfully contested the release.
Today's commitment went uncontested. Lostracco knows what happens if Davis is ever released.
"Once you're found not guilty by reason of insanity jeopardy attaches and it's over," said Lostracco.
For now the former high school scholar with a high I-Q remains under the care of the state at Rusk State Hospital.
Institutionalized mentally ill individuals is a reality, but it's also true many others with mental illness contribute to society.
The National Alliance On Mental Illness makes strides in educating the public about the courageous struggles people with mental illness and their families face everyday.
( www.nami.org )