By Macy Lu
WOODLAND – “Unacceptable under any standards in a civilized society,” Judge David Rosenberg of Yolo County Superior Court retorted after learning defendant Larry James Tillman, Jr.,—who has been “languishing” in custody since Sept. 18—has yet to be transported to a state hospital for mental health treatment. And won’t be until late April. Maybe.
The judge then ordered the director of the California Department of State Hospitals to be in court later in January to explain why, or be charged with contempt.
Tillman was charged with sexual battery in 2018; petty theft, DUI and vandalism in 2019; and stalking, trespassing, and threatening to commit various crimes in mid-2020.
The hearing Thursday was for the court to examine the results of his recent telehealth mental evaluation. But signs that the hearing would not proceed smoothly emerged when Brenda Ray, a representative from the California Department of State Hospitals, explained Tillman “refused to be evaluated.”
Deputy Public Defender Ron Johnson confirmed Ray’s claims, adding Tillman was “not…extremely helpful with the process,” but added the most urgent item for Tillman’s is “get[ing] him to the state hospital,” something the Department of State Hospitals has failed to do for over three months.
In fact, Johnson even said that he was not “sure what the purpose is” in having a telehealth evaluation at this point when the defendant has already been “declared incompetent,” suggesting that perhaps it was another hurdle meant to delay Tillman’s treatment.
“It’s not a substitute,” he added emphatically. “We’re sort of getting side tracked here.”
Judge Rosenberg turned to Ray, asking for an explanation of what a “telehealth evaluation tells us?”
In response, Ray underscored that a telehealth evaluation will provide an analysis of Tillman’s mental competency and identify what medications can treat his issues.
Acknowledging the possible utility of the evaluation, Judge Rosenberg decided to ask Tillman himself whether he would talk to the doctor.
“Mr. Rosenberg,” Tillman said, “if you…get charged for a felony of stalking–”
Realizing where Tillman might be heading, the judge tried to stop him, only to be cut off.
“I’m asking you a question. Let me ask you a question,” Tillman demanded. He then shouted in frustration toward the judge’s persistent interjection, “I didn’t do anything…I didn’t even talk to the person, Rosenberg.”
Tillman has been known for using profanity and failing to restrain his temper in past court hearings, Deputy District Attorney Chris Bulkeley explained. “I’m not sure if he is capable of cooperating in a telehealth interview.”
In response to Bulkeley, Tillman declared that he would not cooperate, effectively answering Judge Rosenberg’s question from earlier.
“Let’s move on,” Judge Rosenberg said, turning once again to Ray. “When will he be transported to the state hospital…give me a date.”
Ray noted that as number 114 on the waitlist, Tillman will be transported at the latest on April 23 despite being committed to custody since Sept. 18, 2020. That would be seven months in custody.
Judge Rosenberg retorted that that is “unacceptable to the court,” sharing Yolo Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson’s reaction in December when he also learned of the department’s unresponsiveness toward Tillman.
According to Vanguard intern Tanya Decendario’s story, at his December hearing Tillman was number 121 on the waitlist and was set for hospital transfer on April 2, 2021.
At that hearing, Judge Richardson had even questioned whether the department was “going backwards from where we were last time” when told of Tillman’s position on the list.
Exasperated, Judge Rosenberg exclaimed, “These folks are all languishing in jail, and you want Mr. Tillman to languish another three months? Unacceptable.
“I’m prepared to set the matter for an order to show cause against the director of the department, and I expect the director to be in court,” he added with a note of finality. “This will be a…hearing for why the court should not hold the director and the department in contempt.”
The director’s hearing will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 21 in Rosenberg’s department.
“I completely understand the situation we’re all under with COVID,” Judge Rosenberg said, “but putting Mr. Tillman on a waiting list from September to the end of April is unacceptable.”
Macy is a junior from Orange County, CA, studying Communications and English at UC Davis. She loves meeting people, reading books, and writing creatively.
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