Criminally-insane patient seeks unsupervised release from St. Elizabeths

James Swann Jr. is requesting conditional release from the district’s psychiatric facility, again.

Swann, 53, was found not guilty by reason of insanity to 32 charges in a 1993 murder spree in the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant areas of Washington, D.C. According to news reports, four people died and several others were wounded throughout the rampage that lasted for several months. Swann has been held a St. Elizabeths Hospital, D.C.’s public psychiatric facility, since the the verdict in 1994.

Kimberly Clarke, Swann’s defense attorney, addressed Chief Judge Robert Morin Feb.7 about a motion she filed on Dec. 28, 2017, to allow Swann to hold employment in the community and visit family members. According to Clarke, Swann has completed the employment readiness program at St. Elizabeths.

However, according to a Feb. 2 letter from the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, the hospital opposes the motion for conditional release.

“The Hospital is unable to support [Swann’s] request to visit his sister and family in the community as the family has not been involved in his treatment and has not had contact with members of the treatment team. Employment in the community cannot be supported , at this time, as Mr. Swann remains on two-to-one supervision when entering the community with Hospital staff,” the letter said.

Swann is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder.

Similar motions for Swann to visit his father and mother were filed in 2017 and 2011, respectively. The motions were denied.

The court scheduled Swann’s readiness and evidentiary hearings in September, where the motion will be decided. Lawyers of the defense and prosecution said they expect the evidentiary hearing to last several days.


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