The Mental Health Minute

Articles and news about mental health issues

Second competency hearing sought before mental health patient’s murder trial

What is the answer for a situation like this.  I believe that each of us is responsible for our actions, but what if you act because you believe you are being controlled by someone or something else?  This man is obviously ill, but he is also obviously dangerous.  What can be done to protect his rights and at the same time protect the innocent from him?
Do the people in the community have more rights than the individual?  To me, that sets a very dangerous precedent; however it is obvious that having this man in your community presents an imminent danger to self and others.
I really don’t have any answers, I was hoping to start a lively conversation with you to explore our collective options when dealing with this kind of situation.
by Chris Freiberg /

FAIRBANKS — A schizophrenic man accused of fatally stabbing an employee at a local mental health facility is seeking another competency hearing before going to trial.

Public defender Michael Biderman made the request for 53-year-old Brian Galbraith at a brief hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Galbraith has been charged with murder in connection with the March 2007 death of Genine Holznagel-Leary, 32. Holznagel-Leary, a residential worker at the Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center, was stabbed outside the 25th Avenue building.

Biderman said there is a high probability the case will go to trial though he said he will also file motions seeking a change of venue and the sequestering of jurors. A date for the new competency hearing has not yet been set. The trial is scheduled to begin May 10.

Galbraith’s competency to stand trial has been a contentious issue as the charges against him have been filed, dismissed and re-filed.

Superior Court Judge Robert Downes dismissed the case in April 2008, ruling that the state never proved Galbraith was competent to stand trial when they filed charges.

Galbraith voluntarily committed himself soon after the judge’s decision but a few weeks later asked for a release, prompting prosecutors to re-file charges.

After hearing testimony from mental health experts familiar with the case, Downes ruled that Galbraith’s condition had improved and he was competent to stand trial when he was re-indicted. The judge has made no ruling on Galbraith’s current mental state.

Galbraith, who reportedly has a long-standing belief in “green and purple people” he claims might have killed Holznagel-Leary, has not had his competency evaluated since May 2008, and the judge has acknowledged that Galbraith’s competency is “fluid.”

Galbraith also reportedly told a psychiatrist that he would be charged with assault rather than murder if Holznagel-Leary came back to life.

Mental health experts who have treated Galbraith have alternately described his condition as beyond help and treatable with medication.

Biderman has previously said that he is looking to pursue an insanity defense.

In 1983, a jury convicted Galbraith of attempted kidnapping after he put a hard, shiny object to a woman’s neck and tried to force her into a car, according to court records. The woman fought him off. He received a five-year prison sentence.

In 1989, a jury convicted Galbraith of third-degree assault after he threatened a grocery store employee with a knife. His punishment was five years of suspended jail time and an order to comply with his mental health treatment plan, records stated.

Three other assault charges since 1982 have been dismissed.

Here’s the link to the original article

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April 22, 2010 - Posted by | Mental Health | , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] Second competency hearing sought before mental health patient's … […]

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