Court: Man who killed 2 must be freed from mental hospital

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) " A man who believed Jesus commanded him to slaughter his father and stepmother in 1990 should be freed from the psychiatric hospital where he's been held for decades, a Tennessee appellate court has ruled.

The Court of Criminal Appeals also ruled Wednesday that David Cloar cannot be required to receive psychiatric treatment upon his release, The Knoxville News Sentinel reported (http://bit.ly/2aMreoU).

Cloar, a 35-year-old Vietnam veteran at the time, was found not guilty by reason of insanity after killing Jack Cloar and June Cloar with a knife at his father's Morristown home.

Officials at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute have called for Cloar's release for the past 15 years, arguing that Cloar's psychotic symptoms, including his obsession with religion, have been kept in check with medication.

In testimony, Cloar said he will seek out treatment at a Veterans Affairs medical facility, although the court ruled the state cannot force him to do so.

The appellate court's ruling reverses one by 3rd Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wright last year.

Wright said he was troubled that the facility's aftercare plan would not require mandatory outpatient treatment or any supervision to ensure Cloar continues to take his medication.

"You know whose face is going to be on '20/20' if he goes out and puts a knife in somebody else? It's going to be his face and my face," Wright said at last year's hearing.

In an opinion authored by Judge D. Kelly Thomas Jr., the appellate court said the applicable state law includes no such requirements of mandatory treatment after release.

"The statutory scheme reflects the considered judgment of the state Legislature as to the proper balance between the need to protect the public from the person while at the same time protecting the person from unjustified detention," Thomas wrote.

Prosecutors have 60 days to ask the Tennessee Supreme Court to review the decision.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, http://www.knoxnews.com

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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