PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – A psychiatric hospital has cited security concerns in its decision to refuse treatment to a teenager awaiting trial on charges he stabbed 20 fellow students and a security guard at his high school.
Westmoreland County Judge Christopher Feliciani agreed with defense witnesses at a Friday hearing who said 16-year-old Alex Hribal, of Murrysville, needs intensive inpatient treatment at a mental hospital. Hribal has been held at the county juvenile detention center since the April 9 rampage at Franklin Regional High School.READ MORE: 40th Street Bridge Lane Restrictions Go Into Place This Week
Defense attorney Patrick Thomassey, the judge and District Attorney John Peck met in chambers after the hearing and believed they had settled on a suitable facility. Other psychiatric hospitals had rejected Hribal, saying he was too young or because he remained in custody on attempted homicide and aggravated assault charges, Thomassey said.
“I think they should be ashamed of themselves,” Thomassey said. “I mean, this young man needs some help, some psychiatric therapy and I can’t find a place to take him and I think that’s pathetic.”
But the facility they chose, Southwood Psychiatric Hospital in Upper St. Clair, later reversed course, a decision first reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Southwood did not return calls to KDKA asking for comment, but has reportedly told the Westmoreland District Attorneys office that it had security concerns.
“Alex is no more of a security threat than you are,” said Thomassey. “I’d take him home with me if the judge would let him.”
Peck and his psychiatric expert, Dr. Bruce Wright, disagreed with defense experts that Hribal may be developing schizophrenia and, instead, proposed keeping Hribal in the juvenile facility but allowing him to visit a psychiatrist or having one brought in to treat him.READ MORE: Dozens Of Women Gather On North Shore For 'Black Maternal Health Week' Photoshoot
“As Dr. Wright said, treatment begins with the person wanting to begin treatment. He’s been offered treatment more than once by detention officials, and he declined,” Peck said Tuesday.
Thomassey denied that at Friday’s hearing and said the boy now knows he needs mental health treatment.
Marsha Levick, the deputy director and chief counsel at the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, said cases like Hribal’s are rare. But she said, Pennsylvania courts “have been able to facilitate entering into special contracts for kids who have special needs.”
Levick cited the case of Miriam White, an 11-year-old Philadelphia girl who stabbed a 55-year-old hairdresser who was walking her dog in August 1999. The girl told authorities she knew she wouldn’t have to return to her foster home if she stabbed someone.
When authorities couldn’t figure out where to house the girl, a judge found a juvenile treatment center in Texas. The girl eventually pleaded guilty to third-degree murder when she was 18 and is serving 18 to 40 years in prison.
Miriam wasn’t moved to a mental hospital, but Levick said her case “represents the notion that judges can sometimes do things that seem like one-of-a-kind solutions.”
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