Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Killer must be released from mental hospital

DADE CITY — A judge on Monday reluctantly ordered a mentally ill killer into an unsecured treatment facility, lacking any lawful reason to keep him locked up in a hospital any longer.

Enrique Guzan Garcia was accused in the 1999 murder of a Tommytown man who was stabbed 31 times, including eight times in the groin.

Garcia admitted to the crime but was found not guilty by reason of insanity, telling doctors he was influenced by a monkey he found in a pot in his front yard. He has been in a secure state hospital ever since.

This year his lawyers petitioned to have him released to a less restrictive environment, saying he has made progress in treatment and is no longer a threat.

Prosecutors objected but acknowledged that Garcia doesn't meet the criteria to stay in a state hospital.

"He's not a danger to himself anymore, he's taking his medications, he hasn't had any incidents. He hasn't acted out," said Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia, who is not related to Enrique Garcia.

Still, the prosecutor said he's not comfortable with the release.

Enrique Garcia will be sent in the next few days to the Agency for Community Treatment Services residential facility on Old Keystone Road in Tarpon Springs. He'll be there under order by Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa, but the facility is not guarded and nothing would physically prevent him from leaving.

"He stabbed a guy 31 times and … as (recently) as April, he told the doctors there he was communicating with his deceased mother telepathically. That doesn't sound like a person who was in his right mind," Manny Garcia said. "But that's only one of the factors."

Siracusa said Monday he was reluctant to order the release but did not think the law allowed Enrique Garcia to continue to be detained.

He attached almost two dozen conditions to his order, including that Garcia can't own firearms, he can't take any drugs not prescribed by his doctor and he can't drink any alcohol.

In a hearing last week, the judge attempted to involve federal immigration authorities in the matter because Garcia is a Mexican citizen in the United States illegally.

From the bench, Siracusa called seven different phone numbers to various offices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He got nowhere.

The prosecutor worked on that angle too and said immigration authorities told him they plan to begin deportation proceedings.

"It's just a matter of them figuring out which office is going to handle it, the Miami office or the Tampa office," Manny Garcia said.

Assistant Public Defender Tom Hanlon represented Enrique Garcia during his trial though he did not handle this phase of the case.

He attended last week's hearing — where he got a hug from his former client — and said the judge's ruling is good news.

"He's certainly way, way, way better than when I first got him," Hanlon said.

"I think the professionals did a good job and they restored his competency."

If Garcia is deported, Hanlon said, his current public defender has been working with Mexican officials to help him get re-established in his own country.

Siracusa's order also contains a condition that if immigration officials come for him, he must go voluntarily.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6245.

Killer must be released from mental hospital 09/15/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2008 7:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Iraqi forces sweep into Kirkuk, checking Kurdish independence drive


    KIRKUK, Iraq — After weeks of threats and posturing, the Iraqi government began a military assault Monday to curb the independence drive by the nation's Kurdish minority, wresting oil fields and a contested city from separatists pushing to break away from Iraq.

    Iraqi security forces patrol Monday in Tuz Khormato, about 45 miles south of Kirkuk, a disputed city that the government seized in response to last month’s Kurdish vote for independence.
  2. Trump and McConnell strive for unity amid rising tensions


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, tried to convey a sense of harmony Monday after months of private feuding that threatened to undermine their party's legislative push in the coming weeks to enact a sweeping tax cut.

    President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell field questions Monday in the Rose Garden of the White House. “We have been friends for a long time,” Trump said.
  3. 'Me too': Alyssa Milano urged assault victims to tweet in solidarity. The response was massive.

    Human Interest

    Actor Alyssa Milano took to Twitter on Sunday with an idea, suggested by a friend, she said.

    Within hours of Alyssa Milano’s tweet, tweets with the words “me too” began appearing. By 3 a.m. Monday, almost 200,000 metoo tweets were published by Twitter’s count.
  4. Tampa tax shelter schemer too fat for his prison term, attorney says


    TAMPA — A federal judge sentenced two Bay area men to prison terms last week for peddling an offshore tax shelter scheme that cost the IRS an estimated $10 million.

    Duane Crithfield and Stephen Donaldson Sr. were sentenced to prison after marketing a fraudulent offshore tax strategy known as a "Business Protection Plan" to medical practices, offering doctors and others coverage against unlikely events such as a kidnapping.

  5. Weinstein Co., overwhelmed by backlash, may be up for sale


    NEW YORK — The Weinstein Co., besieged by sexual harassment allegations against its namesake and co-founder, may be putting itself up for sale.