Man Accused of Assaulting Mother Describes Detailed Battle with Doctor-Prescribed Drugs

By Mihajla Milovanovic

WOODLAND, CA – The accused—pleading not guilty by reason of insanity—testified on behalf of himself here in Yolo County Superior Court Thursday regarding the charge of felony assault on his mother in January of 2018.

Deputy Public Defender Ronald Johnson asked the accused why he was in was in Sierra Vista Hospital and Napa State Hospital, and the accused said he was not compliant with the medications, noting that “nobody wants to feel like a zombie and taken from who they are as a person.”

He added the care doctors simply labeled him as psychotic and schizophrenic without knowing him.

The accused said he was admitted to the hospital because of suicidal thoughts and consumption of the element lithium, noting, “I felt that I lost God, I thought I was going to hell.” Additionally, he claimed that, with his hyper-religiosity, “I was guided by what the Bible stated and I believed it to be the truth and only the truth..”

PD Johnson asked the accused if he knows his diagnosis and symptoms because they “are in court today to determine whether he is safe to society.”

The accused explained his diagnosis of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia along with past symptoms, adding, “I felt that I was God, I felt it in my body. I wasn’t eating or drinking which led me to hallucinate. I also had extreme mood swings where I would get extremely happy then sad in a matter of minutes.”

The accused continued, admitting he would eat unusual things regularly like soap and detergent. He confirmed that he is not having any of these symptoms at the moment, but the manic episodes came back a few months ago due to a change in his lithium medication.

As the testimony became very emotional, the accused claimed he had a very hard time being honest to people taking care of him due to possible reprimand. He “was able to feel again,” once he was taken off of certain medications.

He testified that the cycle began again after new doctors would give him unfamiliar medications to which he experienced side effects.

The accused then brought up his last experience in court and that at that time he was experimenting with 300 mg of lithium his doctor approved and that he was “experimenting with different things to digest.” He added he was getting the same thoughts of punching people with his Abilify medication as well.

At 450 mg of lithium the accused noted, “I can distinguish spirituality and taking care of my physical body, I was fine. I was very open with helping others.”

He then testified that the doctor put in an involuntary medication order for 600 mg of lithium which he did not feel comfortable with at first, but, however, 600 mg is his current dose.

The accused described the red flags that would lead him into a decompensation including feeling sadness, mania and a desire to fast.

The accused explained a specific instance of when he was in a group and one of the people was over speaking while trying to get their voice out and, in response, he stood up and tried to defend the person not being heard. He mentioned that the impulsiveness of getting up was a major red flag as well.

Additionally with the impulsiveness, the accused admitted “this is what happened to me with my mother, I impulsively did things. I was led, I was not in control.” High risk situations for the accused, he said, include parties, bars, and homelessness where he felt he was unable to take care of himself.

PD Johnson then asked why he would go to bars if he felt that he was at risk. The accused stated that he liked to dance and socialize and that he would go to the bar and not drink in these instances. The PD also asked if his mother was a safe space for him at this time to which he replied it was not.

the accused claimed “my mother is very spiritual and I have to keep that at a distance because it is a high risk.” In regard to what led up to the offense, the accused explained that as he became more involved with the Bible he would become more and more manic where he would “yell at Jesus.”

He added that a week before the incident he began fasting for periods of as long as 11 days, and that during this particular time he was not drinking, sleeping or taking his medication because he was so focused on his hyper religiosity.

The direct examination was then concluded and the cross-examination by Deputy District Attorney Ryan Couzens began by asking about his refusal to take medications (“cheeking”) and how he did that in the jails and hospitals, including Yolo County Jail.

DDA Couzens then switched to the accused’s images when he felt the urge to punch and hurt people. The accused explained that it was mostly punching thoughts, but occasionally stabbing would come to his mind while he was on the Abilify medication.

The accused confirmed DDA Couzens’ claim that he wanted to “grab the officers’ guns.” The cross-examination was then cut and the court was dismissed. The trial for the accused will be ongoing.

About The Author

Mihajla is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California. She is pursing a major in Spanish and a minor in Immigration law. After graduation, she plans to go to law school and become an immigration lawyer.

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  1. Taylor Smith

    I really enjoyed reading this update. I first heard of this case in late May of this year and I’m very glad to see how far they’ve come. The accused was initially charged with attempted murder for his assault, but after intensive mental evaluations they decided not to hold him with such a serious offense, thankfully, but the trial has not been smooth or easy since then. I think his personal statements will be very beneficial to the court in determining how to proceed with this case, as clearly he is not an intentional abuser and he needs help. From this article it seems that he has shown major improvement in his awareness and wants to reconcile, and I do hope that in the continuation of this trial the court will sufficiently recognize that and sentence accordingly.

  2. Jaanvi Kaur

    I think this article was quite interesting. It was nice to see how the accused’s case shifted considering how the medicine that was prescribed to him, truly affected the case. It just shows how there were outside factors contributing to the event in question. It is good to see the justice system taking all materials into full consideration, and allowing a defendant to properly bring their story.

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