Man accused of killing his own mother to be released because of a mental health loophole

Gavin Perkins’s siblings are left begging for someone to intervene for the sake of their safety and that of the public.
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 8:13 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A man deemed a danger and incompetent to stand trial for the murder of his own mother, may be released from a state institution in a matter of days.

At issue, a set of laws, or their interpretation, that have resulted in inaction.

Now, Gavin Perkins’s siblings are left begging for someone to intervene for the sake of their safety and that of the public.

It was 2018 when their mother, Ruth Perkins, was shot and killed. It wasn’t long after detectives arrested her middle child, Gavin Perkins, for her death.

“Growing up, yeah, we were as normal as normal can be,” Ruth’s son, Chad, told WAVE News Troubleshooters. “Family vacations. We grew up well.”

“Never hesitating to put her children first, in every way,” Chad’s sister, Kirsten, said.

The siblings learned of a shooting near their mother’s home from the news.

“You had contacted me and said, ‘Chad, this is really bad, I think it’s mom, I think it’s Gavin,’ and I didn’t even want to admit it that at that point,” Chad said. “I said, ‘No, no, Kirsten. You’re wrong.’”

Perkins would be deemed mentally unstable, incompetent to stand trial for murder and a serious danger, even by his own siblings.

Perkins, they said, suffers from severe delusions and paranoia after leaving the military. The once brilliant man fell apart and became increasingly unhinged.

Their mother took him in when he was homeless.

“We lost the person we knew as Gavin,” Kirsten said.

After being found incompetent to stand trial twice, new laws came into play which prosecutors at first thought would keep him from being released, KRS 202A and 202C.

However, 202A had a problem. It enabled a loophole that couldn’t keep those that are found to be mentally incompetent to be involuntarily admitted for a long period of time.

The loophole was the reason for Cane Madden, a man who was also found incompetent in a separate criminal case, to be let out. Madden went on to viciously attack an innocent child after his release.

In 2021, KRS 202C was passed to fix the loophole. However, the language in that law requires the person also to have a previous conviction, which technically, the new prosecutor assigned to Perkins’s case said he did not have.

“The new Commonwealth Attorney,” Chad said, “is not interpreting the law correctly based on what I have seen.”

Gerina D. Whethers, who was appointed to the position by Governor Andy Beshear after the death of Tom Wine, said they are trying to do what they can within the confines of the current laws.

“The top priority of our office is the public safety of everyone in our city,” she wrote. “Since 2018, our office has worked diligently and closely with Ruth Perkins’ family to obtain justice for her and her family, including litigating various issues up to the Kentucky Supreme Court. During the criminal case, Gavin Perkins was found incompetent to stand trial twice based upon competency evaluations conducted by medical professionals. It has long been the law that incompetent defendants cannot be prosecuted, and therefore the criminal case was dismissed.”

The success of another effort to keep Perkins in state care will be up to the opinion of the medical staff, the statement continued.

“A petition was filed in his case; however, Perkins did not meet the statutory requirements for that petition. In the alternative, a second petition was filed by our office and a civil trial was held. Our office was successful in proving to the jury that Perkins should be committed involuntarily for 60 days for treatment. As the 60-day period for Perkins’ involuntary commitment is ending, our office is considering all options to ensure the safety of Ruth Perkins’ family and the public. The success of those options being considered depends upon the opinions of medical professionals who have been involved in Perkins’ treatment,” Whethers wrote.

The two siblings are now leaning on the prosecutor’s office, legislators and the public for help before, they said, anyone else is hurt.

“From it being so fresh from the Old National shooting in our city and so many innocent lives that were lost, due to someone who was mentally ill, I would think there would be more emphasis on protecting innocent lives,” Kirsten said.

“You’re allowing a dangerous person who took their own mother’s life out in the public?” Chad asked. “If you can take your own mother’s life, your own loving mother’s life, your last life-line, who wouldn’t, who wouldn’t you take?”

WAVE News has reached out to Governor Andy Beshear’s Office to find out if his office can intervene.