Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Keep watching him

Raymond Tanner: Seeks release

Raymond Tanner decapitated his wife on Valentines Day in 1990.

The Fairfield meat cutter claimed he was out of his mind at the time. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to a mental hospital for six years before being granted a conditional release. Those conditions include meeting with a psychologist once a month.

Now he wants those monthly meetings to end. Butler County Common Pleas Judge H. J. Bressler has scheduled Tanner's request for a Nov. 12 hearing.

Turn him down judge.

Raymond Tanner should have someone checking on him for the rest of his days.

We won't quarrel with the original diagnosis or verdict. It is hard to imagine any sane person doing what Tanner did. Perhaps his mental illness is currently under control, but schizophrenia is not something he will ever "get over." Insisting that a man who once cut off someone's head should regularly meet with a psychologist does not seem overly restrictive.

The Tanner case points to a gap in Ohio law that does not permit a finding of "guilty, but insane." Such a verdict would allow the mentally ill to be sent to the hospital instead of prison, but it would give the courts far greater control over what happens to such defendants once they are well enough to leave the hospital.

The legislature should give this issue another look. Meanwhile, the judge should make sure Raymond Tanner keeps checking in.

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