Judge orders release of man who killed 2 people in Santa Margarita

August 29, 2021

Andrew Downs


A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered the supervised release of a schizophrenic man who was found legally insane when he shot and killed two sisters in Santa Margarita.

On Christmas night 2010, then 20-year-old Andrew Downs shot and killed sisters Kathy Yeager and Beverly Reilly at a ranch in Santa Margarita. During a ten hour period, he also stole three vehicles, entered a second home in Santa Margarita and beat a man with a crescent wrench.

During his arrest, Downs told officers he needed to go to a mental hospital to get his medicine, which he had run out of three days earlier. Doctors testified in 2012 that at the time of the murders Downs believed there was a government takeover in progress that involved the police and aliens.

Because of the 2012 insanity ruling, Downs was sent to a state mental health facility for an indeterminate amount of time.

On Aug. 24, Superior Court Judge Jesse Marino ordered the release of Downs from Sylmar Health and Rehabilitation Center, a long-term psychiatric facility, to a supervised outpatient program. Downs is headed to a board and care facility where he will be supervised by Department of State Hospitals staff.

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If this nut decides there is another alien invasion and goes on a killing spree the blood will be on the hands of Judge Jesse Marino. Not that he will care, busy as he is “being a Renaissance Man” (as Craig Van Rooyen describes him) over at the country club. If he kills again I hope the voters will remember when Marino is up for re-election in 2024.

I know my post will probably instigate many negative remarks but please hear me out with an open mind. This young man has schizophrenia. From what I understand from news articles at the time of the crime as well as knowing people who know his family, his severe symptoms of schizophrenia manifested in his last teens/early adulthood which is very typical. His family tried everything they could to get him the help he needed. Let’s all face it. The mental health system in our society is severely broken. In balancing an individuals rights to make decisions on ones own healthcare, we must cross a fine line when it comes to forcing a person to take medications and seek treatment. Usually the best that can happen is to 5150 a person for 72 hours if they are deemed to be a danger to himself or others. That is not long enough to really stabilize a person on medications and other treatments. Often the only way to get a person into long term treatment is after they commit a crime and enter the criminal justice system. Unfortunately, Mr. Downs committed several particularly heinous and violent crime that ended the life of two innocent women. Only then was he finally able to get the treatment he needed in a long term forensic facility. Schizophrenia is a particularly devastating mental illness. 1% of the worlds population is schizophrenic. I am in the mental health field work with people with this illness. If I had the power to choose, I would hope for any other illness on a person …cancer, heart disease, diabetes rather than schizophrenia. It is manageable but not curable. It means a life time of taking anti-psychotic medications and following a treatment plan with a team of mental health professionals. No one asks for schizophrenia anymore than people ask for cancer. The only difference is that when one has cancer they get support from friends and family. When a person has a psychotic schizophrenic break, they are stigmatized and shunned. Mr. Downs was found Not Guilty by Reason On Insanity (NGI) (PC1026). In order to be released from a lockdown psychiatric facility, one has to meet very rigid criteria and reviewed by many forensic psychiatrists and psychologists in order to prove they are no longer ‘insane’. I was personally surprised that he is being released after only 11 years, especially because his crimes were so violent. Given he was found to be eligible for release, he must have been fully compliant with 11 years of intense treatment and in his Conditional Release Program will he have to follow very strict guidelines. I would imagine he has the full support of his family which is often key in a person being able to transition to the community successfully.

Horse-soldier, I would like you to know that I work with state employees everyday who are committed, mental health professionals who work tirelessly amid unimaginably difficult situations in order to provide care and treatment to individuals with severe mental illnesses. Your sarcastic remarks regarding state employees are demeaning and undeserved.

For Mr. Downs and his family, I wish you the best. Please know there are people who are rooting for your success with compassion and empathy. Mr. Downs has the potential to become a contributing member of society with continued medications and treatment and will never make up for the lives of Ms. Yeager and Ms. Reilly and the devastation of their families. However, perhaps in his rehabilitation he will do some good in this world.