Attempted Murder Case Turns into a Heated Debate over Technicalities and Severe Mental Illness

By Taylor Smith

WOODLAND – In a motion on Friday morning to dismiss the case for a lack of timely prosecution in Yolo County Superior Court, two attorneys argued over the fine details of a man’s attempted murder charge and his relevant mental health struggles.

Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson spoke to the court first, stating that there were some legal issues in his opponent’s argument that needed to be settled in the case of Fredric Logsdon.

He gave background on the case, noting that Logsdon was charged with attempted murder after allegedly stabbing his mother in the stomach 40 times.

Judge Peter Williams had previously stated the accused pleaded guilty to his charges by reason of insanity. The charges, however, had been dropped from attempted murder to assault and great bodily injury.

According to Johnson, “[the accused] wasn’t held on attempted murder…there was a GBI enhancement and there was some argument over whether or not a cut requiring a couple of stitches to the end of a finger amounted a GBI or not.”

“There were certainly not 40 stab wounds to his mother’s belly,” Johnson asserted.

He continued by explaining his client had been in the hospital after reporting that he was feeling suicidal, which followed from his long history of mental health struggles.

Johnson ensured the court that the defendant was responsibly reporting that his symptoms were getting worse, and that he worked with his doctors to update his medications to mitigate these feelings.

Finally, Johnson delved into the details of his argument.

His first claim was that the language in his opponent’s argument was convoluted and unclear, adding the deadline for a timely manner had passed—so his client’s case should be dropped—and he compared the argument to those of two similar Supreme Court cases.

“When the court looks at those two Supreme Court cases it seems abundantly clear that the actual filing of the petition if it is done after the original commitment expires … there would be an appeal and the court’s actions would be essentially made moot and [the defendant] would simply be released.”

Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens said that the case that Johnson was referencing says that it is acceptable to go over the deadlines with good cause. Asserting that the accused’s case was good cause, Couzens determined that Johnson’s claim was not strong enough to dismiss the case. 

He continued to attack Johnson’s argument, specifically both Supreme Court cases he referenced.

“The law changed after this person was sentenced, arguably changing the release date, if you accept that argument, to be earlier than what we initially anticipated which means the petition needed to be filed earlier,” he said, and added that this case has never been overruled.

“The Lara case dealt with a different deadline. It dealt with filing within 90 days of the release date. So Lara doesn’t overrule Minehan,” Couzens continued.

He then addressed the case at hand. “He attempted to stab his mother thinking there was a six-armed blue baby in her belly, and he very recently told staff that he wanted to hurt others… and he is expressing a desire to kill himself,” said Couzens, and “he literally said he wants to go out and commit a violent crime so he can be sent to prison.”

It became clear after he pointed this out that mental illness was a large factor in this case.

The DDA explained the application of the law and the deadline, claiming that the law was correctly applied at the time of sentencing.

Couzens concluded, “Mr. Johnson can’t now go back and say that because there’s been an interim change in the law that that retroactively applies to the original sentence.”

Johnson retorted it is not his job to file timely petitions and keep people incarcerated. “It is one hundred percent the job of the district attorney to file a timely petition and to know when that petition needs to be filed,” he stated

Judge Williams finally interjected. He said of the two Supreme Court cases being referenced, “the Minehan case is as close on point as we’re going to get in this situation,” and moved to agree with Couzens.

Ultimately, Judge Williams ruled against the motion for lack of timely prosecution. This case will proceed in Yolo County Superior Court in late June.

About The Author

Taylor is a second year student at UC Davis pursuring a degree in Communication with a minor in Philosophy. She plans to graduate in 2023 and hopes to attend law school post-graduation to explore her many passions.

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