Advertisement
  1. News

Tampa Palms man charged in neo-Nazi double murder to stay in state mental hospital for treatment until competent to stand trial

A Hillsborough County judge ruled Wednesday that Devon Arthurs, 18, will be held in Florida State Hospital for treatment until he is declared mentally competent to stand trial. Arthurs admitted to killing two of his roomates in their Tampa Palms condominium because they were neo-Nazis. [Tampa Police Department]
A Hillsborough County judge ruled Wednesday that Devon Arthurs, 18, will be held in Florida State Hospital for treatment until he is declared mentally competent to stand trial. Arthurs admitted to killing two of his roomates in their Tampa Palms condominium because they were neo-Nazis. [Tampa Police Department]
Published Feb. 28, 2018

TAMPA — The former neo-Nazi who told police he killed two of his roommates because they mocked his conversion to Islam will be sent to a state-funded mental facility until his doctors declare he is mentally competent to stand trial.

Devon Arthurs wasn't in court Wednesday for his second competency hearing before Hillsborough County Judge Laura Ward. In the first, Ward granted Assistant State Attorney Ronald Gale's request for a second expert opinion on whether Arthurs is competent enough to understand the charges he would face in court – two counts of premeditated first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with intent to commit a felony and three counts of kidnapping while in possession of a firearm.

"It appears to me in some areas of the report that the defendant exhibited an understanding of some of the issues in question," Gale said in the Feb. 1 hearing.

But in less than three minutes of discussion, Ward said that a second court-appointed expert, psychologist Dr. Daniel Patz , agreed with neuropsychologist Dr. Yolanda Leon's conclusion that Arthurs suffers from mental illness and is "incompetent to proceed."

"There is no lesser restrictive alternative at this time than the Florida State Hospital for Mr. Arthurs, so he will be sent there and work, hopefully, toward restoring his competency," Ward said.

Arthurs told investigators that's what he's really wanted all along.

"I think I'd much rather be at a mental hospital, where I should have been," he said the night of his arrest. "My family has been telling me to go to a hospital. ...Obviously, I don't feel like I'm capable of living day to day like any normal citizen."

Recordings from his May 19 arrest reveal Arthurs' waning trust in his own sanity after the shootings of Jeremy Himmelman, 22, and Andrew Oneschuk, 18, with an assault rifle inside their shared Tampa Palms condominium. The recorded conversations began after Tampa police arrested Arthurs at a nearby smoke shop.

Arthurs' spoke to officers for hours, at times appearing to rationalize his actions. He told investigators he founded the neo-Nazi group Attomwafen Division with a fourth roommate, Brandon Russell, and Himmelman and Oneschuck were members of the group. Arthurs said his conversion to Islam angered his roommates. He said he suspected they were planning acts of terrorism after he discovered a stock pile of explosive chemicals in the garage.

Russell, who wasn't home when his roommates were killed, later admitted to owning the bomb-making materials and was sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Arthurs told investigators he considered contacting the FBI.

"In hindsight," Arthurs told investigators, "It's very stupid what I've done ... If I could go back and do something over, I would sign myself into a hospital and work on my anger issues and rational thinking skills."

Contact Anastasia Dawson at adawson@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.

TAMPA BAY TIMES PREVIOUS COVERAGE


Defendant in neo-Nazi murders found incompetent, state wants second opinion (Feb. 1, 2018)
Suspect in neo-Nazi murders tells of anger problems, says 'I might be kind of sick' (w/video Jan. 30, 2018)
Neo-Nazi Florida National Guard soldier gets five years in prison on bombmaking charges (Jan. 9, 2018)
Former neo-Nazi won't face death penalty if convicted of killing roommates in Tampa (Aug. 10, 2017)
National Guard 'neo-Nazi' aimed to hit Miami nuclear plant, roommate says (June 13, 2017)
Arrest of 'neo-Nazi' soldier highlights extremists' links to U.S. military (June 12, 2017)
Families dispute claims that slain Tampa Palms roommates shared neo-Nazi beliefs (May 25, 2017)
Roommates in Tampa Palms slaying case never outgrew Nazi sympathies, friend says (May 23, 2017)

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, left, and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody were appointed to the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice by Attorney General Bob Barr. [Tampa Bay Times]
    Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody will also join a commission that will “explore modern issues affecting law enforcement," according to the Department of Justice.
  2. Clockwise from left: Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apple, Candy Corn and Cheeseburger-On-A-Stick [Courtesy of the Florida State Fair]
    Cheesy Sriracha Funnel Cake Bites, Piña Colada Candy Apples and more are coming to the Florida State Fair.
  3. Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputy Alton Smith helps recover items Wednesday from Lake Twitt in Odessa during a dive team practice. Divers used the drill to search for evidence of a forgotten African American cemetery nearby. [CHRIS URSO   |  Times]
    Keystone Memorial Cemetery was established by a freed slave and disappeared in the 1950s. The dive team chose Lake Twitt to do its monthly practice.
  4. In this Aug. 28, 2013, file photo, Joseph Maldonado answers a question during an interview at the zoo he runs in Wynnewood, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) [SUE OGROCKI  |  AP]
    A federal judge sentenced Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage to 22 years in prison for trying to arrange the killing of Carole Baskin.
  5. St. Petersburg Police Chief Anthony Holloway, left, and U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez announce the creation of the regional Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force. [SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    Police are spearheading a new six-county task force after receiving a $742,000 Justice Department grant.
  6. In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., speaks during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (Senate Television via AP) [AP]
    After late-night deliberations over the rules almost ensured no new witnesses will be heard, the trial picked up speed
  7. More than 44 percent of people who searched on ApartmentList.com for the Tampa Bay area from June to December were outside the region, according to a report from Apartment List. Percentages in the “Top Three Sources” box represent the share of searches coming from outside the metro area. (Apartment List map) [Apartment List]
    The region trails only Denver, Baltimore and San Diego for the percentage of people from outside the area searching for apartments on Apartment List.
  8. To accommodate the swelling numbers of aging baby boomers, experts say we will need to make transportation more readily available, build more affordable housing, modify homes and apartments to help seniors age in place, and create programs to bring young and old people together. [Times (2011)]
    “There’s never been a time like this,” one expert says. Solutions include more health aides, taming long-term care costs and just healthier living.
  9. The northbound lanes of I-275 were closed for more than four hours early Tuesday morning as troopers investigated a deadly crash. [Florida Highway Patrol]
    Police pulled over their vehicle for driving the wrong way on Fifth Avenue S, but the driver took off and crashed shortly after.
  10. Facebook user Cornelius King posted this warning on November 19, 2019. Hillsborough County Sheriff says it is a hoax, but the viral message continues to spread online. [Facebook screenshot]
    A viral post encourages Florida drivers to run over people they see in the street to avoid being attacked.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement