Emergency petition filed in mental illness loophole case

The news came as public outcry mounted over the potential weekend release of Gavin Perkins because of an interpretation of the law.
Published: Jun. 8, 2023 at 7:54 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - An emergency petition is filed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office to try to prevent a mentally-ill man accused of killing his own mother from being let out of a state institution.

The news came as public outcry mounted over the potential weekend release of Gavin Perkins because of an interpretation of the law.

The issue of Perkins’ release has gotten the attention of political players like Governor Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron.

At issue, the Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney stated Perkins did not qualify to be involuntarily admitted under the law. Perkins, who suffers from severe delusions and paranoia, could be let out Saturday.

Thursday, the newly appointed Commonwealth Attorney, Gerina D. Whethers filed a petition asking for his medical staff to intervene and keep him in their care.

“Today, our office filed a petition seeking the involuntary hospitalization of Perkins for 360 days to ensure the safety of Ruth Perkins’ family and the public,” Whethers wrote. “The success of the petition filed today is dependent upon the opinions of medical professionals who have been involved in Perkins’ treatment.”

“The scariest thing must be thinking that that individual is going to be released,” Beshear said. “I think this is a complicated legal situation. But I’m glad the Jefferson County’s Commonwealth Attorney’s office has taken that step. And now we’ll see what happens in those hearings.”

However, others, including Julie Raque Adams, Perkins’s own siblings, believe the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office is not correctly applying the law.

“In 2021, the Kentucky General Assembly passed what is now KRS 202C.040,” she wrote. “This statute closed the loophole in state law that allowed the release of those found incompetent to stand trial for their crimes.”

“The Kentucky General Assembly did its job of closing the loophole of violent offenders incompetent to stand trial,” her statement continued. “It is now wholly and solely in the hands of the Commonwealth’s Attorney to protect the public from these violent offenders.”

Part of the provision includes the respondent demonstrating a “history of criminal behavior that has endangered or caused injury to others or has a substantial history of involuntary hospitalizations under KRS Chapter 202A or 202B prior to the commission of the charged crime.”

Perkins’s siblings said the prosecutor assigned to the case, Chris Foster, told them that because Perkins was never criminally convicted of murder, he would likely be let out.