ASH drops deranged man in Paso Robles
August 6, 2013
A parolee deemed too dangerous for release because of mental illness was dropped at a bus stop in Paso Robles, the result of a clerical error that led to the death of a Santa Cruz woman. [LATimes]
In May 2012, an Atascadero State Hospital employee drove Charles Anthony Edwards, 44, to Paso Robles where he was told to take a bus to the San Francisco. Shortly afterwards, he made his way to Santa Cruz where prosecutors say he brutally stabbed a popular shop owner to death on a busy sidewalk.
On Monday, Edwards was transported to a Santa Cruz County Courtroom where a judge will determine if he is legally competent to stand trial.
On May 7, officers responded to a 911 call and found Shannon Collins with her right carotid artery and jugular vein slashed and Edwards splattered with her blood. Edwards is a diagnosed schizophrenic with a history of violence dating to age 13.
Officials at Atascadero State Hospital had classified Edwards as a mentally disordered offender deemed too dangerous for release due to active mental illness. Nevertheless, in September 2011, Atascadero State Hospital officials sent Edwards to a highly monitored conditional-release program in Manteca.
After just one week, Edwards begged to be sent back to the hospital because he believed he could not make it on the outside, records and interviews revealed. State correction officials agreed with Edwards and sent him back to Atascadero State Hospital.
However, the Atascadero staffer admitting Edwards into the hospital made a clerical error placing the date for his mandatory one-year parole review into the system incorrectly. The deadline came and went without a review.
Hospital officials then decided they could no longer legally hold Edwards and had a staffer drive him to a bus stop in Paso Robles. Edwards took the bus to San Francisco and then he drifted to Santa Cruz where he stayed in a homeless shelter.
On May 7, after being holed up in the shelter reading the Bible and muttering to himself for about four days, he attacked Collins who was walking to the hair dresser for an appointment.
Collins’ husband Kenneth Vinson has filed a lawsuit against the Department of Corrections as well as the Atascadero State Hospitals, alleging that officials “knew that Edwards continued to suffer from a severe mental disorder during the period of his parole.”
The state attorney general’s office is battling to have the lawsuit thrown out, citing government immunity from liability.