Hearing Today On Killer’s Request For Temporary Leave
The Hartford Courant
9:03 AM EDT, May 1, 2009
The state Psychiatric Security Review Board this morning will consider whether David Messenger, acquitted by “reason of mental disease or mental defect” of killing his pregnant wife in 1998, is ready to leave Connecticut Valley Hospital and live in a community.
The hospital has asked the board to grant Messenger a temporary leave that would allow him to live in a neighborhood in Old Saybrook. If the board approves the request, Messenger would remain under the hospital’s care, said Ellen Lachance, the review board’s executive director.
Under the hospital’s proposal, Messenger would not live in a supervised setting and would be allowed to drive, use public transportation and shop with family and friends, according to a partial copy of the hospital’s temporary-leave application.
Lachance said the “full scope” of the hospital’s request would be revealed during this morning’s public hearing at CVH. She said that, in general, patients who receive temporary leaves continue to receive psychiatric treatment and return to CVH for periodic visits.
The review board is an independent agency that oversees people who have been acquitted by reason of insanity. Temporary leaves can allow patients to spend as little as a few hours in the community or live in the community full time, Lachance said.
It is the first step toward rejoining society. The next step — which CVH has not requested — is a conditional release, which results in patients’ being discharged from CVH to live in the community under the care of a community provider.
The board sets the parameters for the patient’s activities and retains ultimate oversight in both scenarios, which could include case management, vocational training and other services, Lachance said.
In this case, CVH is asking that Messenger eventually be allowed to live in the community full time, she said.
In 2006, the security board gave Messenger permission to take unsupervised visits under certain conditions, but rescinded its approval when Middletown officials objected. In 2007, city officials raised an outcry when they found out that Messenger had been on dozens of supervised visits around the city.
Today’s hearing will be Messenger’s first appearance before the board in two years, Lachance said. He has been a CVH patient since 2001, when he was committed to 20 years at the public psychiatric hospital. Messenger killed Heather Messenger with a board and a fireplace poker in their Chaplin home in 1998.
The public can attend the 9:30 a.m. hearing, but only the victim’s family will be allowed to speak. The board will ask representatives from CVH to prove that Messenger could live on his own. An assistant state’s attorney is expected to attend and could argue against granting Messenger a temporary leave.
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