Sanity hearing begins for mass killer seeking release

By Chelsea J. CarterThe Associated Press
Wednesday November 14, 2001

SANTA ANA — A sanity hearing for mass killer Edward Charles Allaway began Tuesday before an Orange County judge who will decide whether Allaway is fit to be released from a state mental hospital. 

Allaway has been held at state institutions for nearly 25 years since being found innocent by reason of insanity in a July 1976 shooting rampage that left seven people dead and two others injured at California State University, Fullerton. 

“We’ve all heard the expression ’safe and sane,’ and Mr. Allaway is every bit of that,” John Bovee, his lawyer, said in his opening statement. 

In 1977, a judge found Allaway innocent by reason of insanity — under a diminished capacity defense — after a jury was unable to reach a verdict. 

Although California no longer allows the diminished capacity defense, Allaway remains entitled to a sanity hearing that is now typically reserved for those found legally insane. 

Psychiatrists have differed on Allaway’s mental state. He has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder. However, state psychologists now believe he suffered from a form of schizophrenia that went into remission shortly after he was remanded to a state hospital. 

Allaway, 63, was a campus janitor when he took a .22-caliber rifle into the library and shot to death two custodians, a photographer, retired professor, library assistant, graphic artist and audio technician. Two other people were wounded. 

He told authorities he killed his co-workers because they teased him about his belief that pornographic movies were being made on campus. Some, he said, joked that the movies might even have starred his wife. 

Allaway, who is expected to testify during the three-week hearing, has petitioned for release four times previously. Judges rejected three of those petitions and Allaway withdrew the other one. 

During his opening statement, Bovee told Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel that Allaway has willingly participated in treatment and has not needed to take medication since his incarceration in 1977. 

Deputy District Attorney Dan Wagner reserved the right to make his statement later in the hearing. 

Bovee argued that Allaway has been locked away more for political reasons than because of his mental health. In 1992, the state health department fought moving Allaway from a maximum security state hospital to another state hospital. 

Mark Mills, a psychiatrist who evaluated Allaway in 1993 at the request of the state, testified that Allaway had shown no signs of delusions since he was first remanded to a state hospital. 

“By the time I saw him in 1993, I was very comfortable ... that he was not delusional,” Mills said. 

He also told the court that Allaway suffered at least one other delusional episode in the early 1970s, which included a belief that his then wife was having sex with men at the auto plant where he worked. 

Allaway signed himself into a psychiatry ward at his wife’s urging but refused to take medication, Mills said. 

After his release, he moved to California and divorced his wife. He later remarried. 

“The good news is he was able to kind of regroup ... The bad news is well before July 1976, he ’s having little breakthroughs of delusional behavior,” Mills said. 

The psychiatrist recommended that if Allaway is released, he should be placed in a supervised and structured environment, such as a halfway house with 24-hour psychiatric care available. 

The testimony of Mills did little to comfort the half-dozen family members of Allaway’s victims who attended the hearing. 

“It’s always difficult to hear a doctor talk about what a wonderful person that man is,” said Patricia Almazon, whose father was among those killed. 

Paul Paulsen, whose sister was killed, said he was watching the trial with “fear that Allaway could be back on the street.” 

“It’s fear not just for me but for the community he ends up in,” he said. “How can you guarantee he’ll never do it again?” 


A look at key events leading to Edward Charles Allaway’s sanity  

hearing, which began Tuesday: 


—July 12, 1976: Allaway, then 37, walks into the library at California State University, Fullerton, and kills seven people. 

—Sept. 9, 1977: A jury is unable to reach a verdict. The defense agrees to allow the judge to decide the case. 

—Nov. 16, 1977: A judge finds Allaway innocent by reason of insanity and remands him to a state mental hospital. 

—June 12, 1993: A judge rejects Allaway’s second petition for freedom. The first petition for conditional release was never filed with the court because it was not supported by the state hospital. 

—November 1997: Patton State Hospital staff members recommend Allaway be transferred to a halfway house. Allaway files a petition with the court seeking release and then withdraws it. 

—February 2001: Allaway again applies for conditional release. 

—August 2001: Orange County Superior Court Judge Frank F. Fasel sets a date for Allaway’s sanity hearing.