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Witnesses differ on release options

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Broderick to be hospitalized after not guilty by reason of insanity verdict

By Sara Blankenship

HILLSVILLE – A Michigan man who was found not guilty by reason of insanity on felony charges in Carroll County will remain in the care of a state hospital. This decision was made at a commitment hearing held on April 12 in Carroll Circuit Court.

Jason Andrew Broderick, 35, of Adrian, Mich., was involved in a high-speed chase in Carroll County on April 10, 2016. Following the incident, Broderick was charged with five felonies including malicious assault on a law enforcement officer, two counts of assault of a law enforcement officer, destruction of property with intent and eluding police.

After multiple psychiatric evaluations, Broderick went before Judge Brett Geisler in Carroll County Circuit Court on Nov. 29, 2016, where testimony by Dr. Colin Barron resulted in a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Since that time, Broderick has been in the care of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) at the Central State Hospital in Petersburg. Broderick has been under the care and evaluation of both a psychologist and a psychiatrist to determine if he would require more hospitalization or qualify for a conditional release plan or unconditional release back into society.

The charges against Broderick stemmed from events that occurred in April 2016, after the Hillsville Police Department received a call regarding a reckless driver on the U.S. 58 bypass near the U.S. 52 exit.

Officer Hunter Grubb responded and met a gray 2016 Honda Accord, driven by Broderick, on South Main Street. The car appeared to be traveling at more than 30 miles above the posted speed limit, according to the police report.

Officer Ricky Hayes and Sgt. Alan Gravely assisted Grubb as they attempted to pull Brockerick’s vehicle over, but the car continued west on 58 at a high rate of speed, at times using the emergency lane and traveling in the wrong lane of traffic, and swerving at other vehicles it met, police said.

While officers attempted to stop Brockerick’s vehicle in the parking lot of the Cockerham’s Truck Stop at Interstate 77’s Exit 14, he attempted to hit the vehicles driven by Hayes and Gravely, the report said.

The pursuit ended when Broderick rammed Grubb’s patrol car on the driver’s side, disabling both vehicles. Broderick was arrested.

Grubb was treated for minor injuries related to the collision.

At the April 12 hearing, two medical professionals provided testimony on what they believed should be the course of action for Broderick. In addition, a case manager with Mount Rogers Community Services Board and Broderick’s mother, Susan Broderick, provided testimony.

Dr. Charles Meyer was called to testify by Nathan Lyons, Carroll’s commonwealth attorney. Meyer evaluated Broderick for his first temporary custody evaluation in February and recommended that Broderick would benefit from continued hospitalization.

“Based on information that was made available to me, the [not guilty by reason of insanity] recommendation and my interview with him, I noticed certain risk factors for aggressive behavior,” Meyer said. “By focusing on the risk factors for future aggressive behavior, I recommend that Mr. Broderick start in the hospital system.”

Meyer explained several risk factors that he believes predict a future of aggressive behavior for Broderick, which need to be in control before Broderick could be released back into society. Those factors included a major mental illness that has psychotic and mood symptoms, paranoia, substance abuse problems, lack of insight and a history of non-compliance with treatment.

“Paranoia is one of the most dangerous symptoms, so [people] often react to protect themselves and become aggressive,” explained Meyer. He also indicated that a lack of insight kept Broderick from realizing that he had a problem and he demonstrated denial by not recognizing what others saw as problems.

Another major problem that stood out for Meyer was the charges that landed Broderick in the court system to begin with. Broderick’s charges stemmed from a police chase in which he was trying to escape due to a paranoid episode.

“When I did my report, that risk of escape really stood out,” said Meyer. “So, I thought starting in the hospital would be what I’d recommend.”

Meyer explained that, while in the hospital system, Broderick would be closely monitored and in treatment and would be able to earn privileges for grounds visits and community visits based on the recommendations of his treatment team.

If he’s successful, that sets a better stage for a judge to grant a conditional release, Meyer said. He said he thought a period of three to 12 months in an institutionalized setting would be sufficient time to reevaluate Broderick for conditional release.

Karen Boyer, Broderick’s attorney, called Dr. David Albright to testify in relation to the treatment team’s conditional and unconditional release plans.

Albright, a psychiatrist with Central State Hospital, said that he had worked with Broderick’s treatment team, a social worker for Mount Rogers Community Services Board and other individuals at Mount Rogers to draft the plans.

After looking at Broderick’s evaluations and considering the factors, Albright and the treatment team were in favor of an unconditional release. “The treatment team is in support of unconditional release back to Ohio because he can be monitored by family and there are services available for his mental illness and substance abuse,” Albright said.

Broderick, who was living in Michigan at the time of his offense, has no connections to Virginia or Carroll County. His mother and other family currently live in Ohio.

If let go on a conditional release program, Broderick would have to remain in Virginia and would have no family in the area. “Family support is critical,” said Albright. “They know him very well and could recognize symptoms of mental illness. He has a build up to his breaking point and the family would recognize that before it got to a bad point.”

Albright also pointed out that in the period before his psychotic break last year, Broderick wasn’t around family who could recognize the build up. His mother had often described him as a loner and he was living in Michigan without family prior to the offense.

“He has reached rock bottom and sees the importance in treating his substance abuse problems,” Albright said in regards to Meyer’s claim of Broderick lacking insight. “He’s done well and been a model patient since his admission in December. I saw him before he had proper insight and after. He now knows he needs treatment.”

Lyons indicated that if unconditional release was the decision, then the court then has no control over Broderick if he tries to escape or commits any further crimes. An unconditional release is very rare to even be suggested, according to Lyons.

Judge Geisler asked what would happen if Broderick went to Ohio and just decided he didn’t want treatment anymore or that he was just going to leave his family’s care.

“I wouldn’t have recommended it if I believed he would fall into that category of patient. I think he will be an honest person and work with service providers and [go to] treatment because he does recognize he has a problem,” said Albright. “I would never say there’s no danger [to himself or others], but there is a very small risk.”

Boyer called Robert Quillen, a case manager with Mount Rogers, to speak on behalf of Broderick. Quillen indicated that he worked with the treatment team on a plan for Broderick’s conditional release.

Under this plan, Broderick would be in the care of Mount Rogers for his treatment and employment, but would be living on his own in an apartment that had been approved by Mount Rogers.

Quillen said that Broderick would reside in Chilhowie in an unsupervised apartment that was typically rented to individuals receiving services through Mount Rogers. From the apartment, Broderick would be a short distance to the Mount Rogers Mental Health Center where he would receive treatment, within walking distance of a church where he would attend a substance abuse recovery program and he would be provided employment through the Mount Rogers Industrial and Development Center. Broderick would also receive treatment through The Life Center in Galax prior to moving into the apartment.

At first a supporter of the conditional release option, Quillen said that after the treatment team spoke with Broderick’s mother, they believed an unconditional release plan needed to be put together and he became a proponent for that route.

“His mother put in the effort to look into resources for him and is committed to helping him,” said Quillen. “He has no connections to Virginia so, putting him in a new place is not as favorable as with family and we would prefer them to go with family. I have no concern for risk to himself or others.”

“If he’s successful in an independent setting, it would make me more comfortable letting him move forward on unconditional release,” Judge Geisler said in response.

Susan Broderick spoke on behalf of her son and her desire to have him with family on an unconditional release option. She explained that her son would have a large family network in Plymouth, Ohio, where she lives, and the support of close family friends.

She indicated that Broderick would have many treatment resources available to him in Ohio, including facilities for mental illness and substance abuse counseling that his brother owns. He would also have a faith-based substance abuse recovery program available for him and she had already made an appointment for him to be evaluated at a recovery center.

Geisler asked how she would deal with any issues that arose and she indicated that with family members interested in Broderick’s well-being, they would immediately notice the warning signs and would not hesitate to commit him if necessary.

“I can provide a home, it’s a safe rural community, and two family businesses that could provide employment. I think family is an important thing,” said Susan Broderick. “It’s a very close-knit community with a lot of close family friends and family support…he would never be without support.”

Following the testimonies, Lyons stated his position. “Due to the nature of the offense, the thing that concerns us is the varied opinions,” he said. “There’s not two people who can agree on these [release] conditions.”

Lyons continued, “Based on the seriousness of these charges, the court shouldn’t gamble on public safety and we recommend supervised hospitalization.”

Boyer went before the judge and said that this entire situation was caused by mental illness and substance abuse and could have had tragic results, but it didn’t due to the appropriate handling of the situation by local law enforcement.

“The treatment team and doctors recommend that Mr. Broderick be released to his mother on unconditional release so, he is not by himself in a state where he has no family or social support,” said Boyer. “He knows he is at a point that something has to be done and we ask that the court respect the decision of the treatment team and doctors to unconditionally release Mr. Broderick to his mother.”

“If you do what [the defense] is requesting, the court completely dismisses Meyer’s report and I don’t think the court can do that,” Lyons countered.

After a few minutes of thought, Geisler explained his decision. “Let me start off by saying, in the years I’ve been doing this, we’ve never went from [not guilty by reason of insanity] to unconditional release,” said Geisler. He indicated that it was standard course of action to recommend an institutional setting, then conditional release, followed by unconditional release over a period of time.

“There is absolutely no question that what brought Mr. Broderick to this court was a function of a mental illness brought on by substance abuse,” Geisler said. “The court cannot ignore the underlying offense and someone could have easily gotten killed if it weren’t for the professionalism of our law enforcement officers.”

Geisler said that he didn’t feel comfortable with unconditional release and that, since Broderick’s family isn’t in the area, he was also not in favor of conditional release. That left Geisler to grant a decision of inpatient hospitalization and a review of Broderick’s progress in 12 months.

“My job first and foremost is that people are protected and I have to make sure to an extent that Mr. Broderick isn’t a risk to himself,” Geisler said. “I feel based on Dr. Meyer’s report that he presents a moderate risk and I think and feel that if the court has a history [to review] and a time period goes by, I’d feel comfortable with conditional release.”

Boyer said after the hearing that Broderick is scheduled for a review date in 2018.

For now, he is hospitalized in Petersburg and Boyer said his treatment team is working to get him transferred to the Southwest Virginia Mental Health Institute in Marion.

“This would help him start to earn [outing] privileges and make connections in the area for his possible conditional release,” said Boyer. Broderick’s original conditional release plan would still stand if it were the court’s decision after his review.

The period of hospitalization will provide a history for the court to review when the time comes and would “give Mr. Broderick time to establish a track record to see progress towards conditional release in 12 months,” said Boyer.

Boyer also said that if Broderick is doing well after six months and his treatment team recommends conditional release, the team could write a letter to the court requesting another hearing before his review date.