Prosecutor: Mental hospital releasing convicted killer too soon

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SEATTLE, Wash. (KING) – There is a debate in Washington over whether or not a convicted killer should be set free.

Jeffrey Schuler is eligible for conditional release from a Seattle hospital 13 years after he murdered his girlfriend, Sophia Kim, inside their apartment.

Kim was found beaten, stabbed 25 times with a sword and partially decapitated.

After the crime, Schuler rushed to a neighbor’s house.

Authorities say he was naked and claimed he was attacked in a home invasion.

Schuler, a diagnosed schizophrenic, has a long history of violence and of not taking his medication.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Now, a court will determine if he should be allowed unsupervised trips into the community.

“It’s irrational to think that he will ever be stable again,” said Brenda Kim, Sophia’s sister-in-law. “Knowing his history, what more does he have to do for them to realize that the safe place for him is permanently in an institution?”

During his time at the hospital, medical records obtained by KING revealed that he had undergone treatment for domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse.

Officials also found that he skipped medications because he didn’t like the side effects.

However, a psychiatric evaluation in 2014 by an independent physician found that Schuler had improved and was ready for conditional release under strict supervision.

Jan Beyer, who oversees Western State Hospital, wrote to the judge, saying constant supervision is not necessary despite the recommendations.

If conditional release is approved, Schuler could earn unsupervised visits into the community.

“I’m surprised that anybody would want to put their credibility behind this guy,” said Dan Satterberg, a King County prosecutor.

Satterberg says this is an extreme example of the hospital releasing dangerous patients too soon to make room.

“Once someone goes to Western State, they don’t care about the crime that sent them there,” he said. “They view them as patients ready to re-integrate into the community and the faster the better.”

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