ANCHORAGE - A judge has ordered Alaska Psychiatric Institute to prepare for the supervised release of a patient considered potentially dangerous by psychiatrists.
Brian Dussault is the last Alaskan found not guilty of murder because of insanity. He has spent most of the last 24 years at the state mental hospital.
But his lawyer said the 51-year-old man deserves a chance at freedom.
"He's not a convict. He's a patient," said lawyer Avraham Zorea, who now lives in the Seattle area but is spending this spring and summer in Alaska working on Dussault's release.
At a hearing Tuesday before Superior Court Judge John Suddock, Dussault sat quietly with his hands cuffed in front of him. For much of the last year, he has lived in API's forensic unit, the most secure part of the hospital.
Suddock wants Dussault moved into a less strict unit. If he does well there, the judge wants him out of the hospital under conditions such as testing for drugs and alcohol and monitoring by a private psychiatrist.
"API is not supportive of his release," psychiatrist Larry Maile, API clinical director and head of the forensic unit, said after Tuesday's hearing.
A forensic review board at API that includes law enforcement, a public defender, a prosecutor and API treatment staff also doesn't recommend his release, Fayette said.
The judge wants a report back by June 19.
Dussault killed his wife during a schizophrenic breakdown in February 1984. In a bizarre, rambling interview with Anchorage police at the time, he said her body had been invaded by red crystal squares sent by beings trying to control everything. He emptied his semiautomatic into her, reloaded, emptied it again, thought maybe she was still coming round, so he sprayed her with water.
Should have done that at the start, he told police. "They" don't like water.
Dussault doesn't have to prove he's sane to get out of the hospital, just that he can be adequately supervised and that the community can be protected, said assistant attorney general James Fayette.
He said Dussault over the years has been a difficult and defiant patient, sometimes not going to group sessions or AA meetings, the sorts of things his doctors say would show progress.
Psychiatrist Aron Wolf told Suddock by phone Tuesday that he is willing to check that Dussault takes his medication if he's released. He could live in an assisted living facility in the Mountain View neighborhood that now houses mainly sex offenders recently out of prison, under the plan reluctantly fashioned by API. And he has money to pay for it all, Suddock noted.
Dussault gets military benefits of about $2,500 a month, the judge said. Before he killed his wife, he was medically retired from the U.S. Air Force because of mental illness.
He also receives about $2,400 a quarter from a family inheritance, according to a brother, who spoke by phone from New York at Tuesday's hearing.