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United States v. Aleksov

United States District Court, District of Columbia

December 20, 2012

UNITED STATES of America,
v.
Aleksander ALEKSOV, Defendant.

John Patrick Anthony, Takoma Park, MD, Shawn Franklin Moore, Federal Public Defender for D.C., Washington, DC, for Defendant.

Colleen M. Kennedy, U.S. Attorney's Office, Washington, DC, Michael C. Dilorenzo, U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, National Security Section, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

COLLEEN KOLLAR-KOTELLY, District Judge.

Defendant Aleksander Aleksov was arrested on January 29, 2008 and charged with knowingly and willfully threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon President George W. Bush in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871. Compl., ECF No. [1]; Indictment, ECF No. [24]. After a competency evaluation,

Page 231

the Court found the Defendant not competent to stand trial. The Defendant was detained at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina in hopes of restoring his competency. As part of that process, the Court granted the Government's motion to involuntarily medicate the Defendant. Ultimately the Defendant was found competent on February 14, 2011, and entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to violating section 871 on June 6, 2011.

Presently before the Court is the Defendant's [40] Motion to Modify Conditions of Release, seeking the Defendant's release into the community under certain conditions. The Government and the Risk Assessment Panel at FMC Butner oppose the Defendant's release from confinement. The Court held an evidentiary hearing on March 8, 14, and 20, 2012. Having considered the evidence presented during the evidentiary hearing, the parties' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law, the relevant authorities, and the record as a whole, the Court finds that even with the proposed conditions of release, the Defendant's release would create a substantial risk of bodily injury due to a present mental disease or defect. Therefore, the Defendant's motion to modify his conditions of release is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

I. FINDINGS OF FACT[1]

The following Findings of Fact are based on the testimony and evidence presented by the parties during the evidentiary hearing, the parties' pre-hearing and post-hearing pleadings,[2] and the record as a whole. The Court credits the following evidence after reviewing the complete record, observing the demeanor of the witnesses, considering the arguments of counsel, and drawing all reasonable inferences from the evidence.

A. Procedural History

The Defendant was arrested on January 29, 2008 and charged by complaint with knowingly and willfully threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon President George W. Bush in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 871. On February 6, 2008, the Defendant was committed to the United States Attorney General for a full mental health evaluation. 2/06/08 Minute Entry. During a competency hearing on May 19, 2008, Magistrate Judge Alan Kay determined that the Defendant was not competent to stand trial, and committed the Defendant for treatment and further psychiatric evaluation. 5/19/08 Minute Entry; 6/19/08 Order, ECF No. [6], at 1. The Court subsequently granted the Government's motion to involuntarily medicate the Defendant on May 7, 2009. 05/07/09 Order, ECF No. [14]; 5/21/09 Order, ECF No. [17].

The Grand Jury returned an indictment charging the Defendant with one count of violating 18 U.S.C. § 871 on January 27, 2011. The Court found the Defendant competent on February 14, 2011, and the Defendant entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity to count one of the Indictment on June 6, 2011. 2/14/11 Minute Entry; 6/6/11 Minute Entry. The Court ordered the Federal Medical Center to submit a report regarding the Defendant's

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mental illness and risk of bodily injury as required by 18 U.S.C. § 4243(b). 6/21/11 Order, ECF No. [36]. The Defendant's treating doctors at FMC Butner, Adeirdre Stribling Riley, Ph.D., and Ralph Newman, M.D., submitted a report dated July 7, 2011, concluding that the Defendant was suffering from a mental disease or defect and would present a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person if released. See Gov't's Opp'n at 5; 7/25/11 Minute Entry. Two days later, the Defendant filed the present motion.

Pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 4243(c), on July 25, 2011, the Court held a hearing in order to determine whether or not he should be committed to the custody of the Attorney General. The Court agreed with the July 7, 2011 report from Dr. Stribling Riley and Dr. Newman that the Defendant posed a substantial risk of bodily injury due to a present mental disease or defect if released, and held that the Defendant should remain committed. 7/25/11 Minute Entry. However, with the Defendant's motion outstanding, the Court did not enter a written order under section 4243(e), and thus FMC Butner did not adopt a formal treatment plan for the Defendant.

The Defendant was transferred from the Federal Medical Center at Butner to the D.C. Jail on October 15, 2011. See 3/20/12 Tr. 6:13-16. Prior to the Defendant's arrival in the District of Columbia, his counsel was unable to arrange a specific conditional release proposal with service providers in the District of Columbia. Accordingly, the Court delayed the evidentiary hearing on the Defendant's motion until a proposal for the Defendant's release was finalized. The Defendant's treatment team at FMC and Butner oppose the Defendant's release even under the plan designed for the Defendant after his transfer to the D.C. Jail.

The Court held an evidentiary hearing regarding the Defendant's motion over the course of three days in March 2012. During the first day of testimony, March 8, 2012, four witnesses testified on behalf of the Defendant: (1) Dr. Paul Montalbano, a forensic psychologist; [3] (2) Dr. Robert Keisling, a psychiatrist; [4] (3) Dr. Benjamin Adewale, the Defendant's treating psychiatrist at the D.C. Jail; [5] and (4) Iva Aleksova, the Defendant's sister. The hearing resumed on March 13, 2012, at which time Ms. Aleksova concluded her testimony, and

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Dr. Adeirdre Stribling Riley [6] testified on behalf of the Government. Dr. Stribling Riley concluded her testimony on March 20, 2012, and the Defendant briefly called Dr. Montalbano in rebuttal. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Court requested a report from the United States Probation Office regarding the viability of the conditional release plan proposed by the Defendant,[7] as well as proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law from the parties. The parties filed their post-hearing briefs on May 14, 2012.

B. Defendant's Background

The Defendant, now thirty three years old, was born and raised in Macedonia. See 3/8/12 Tr. 186:20-21, 189:9-190:14 (I. Aleksova); see also id. at 189:9-23 (noting the Defendant obtained a college degree before moving to the United States). As part of the diversity lottery process, the Defendant obtained a visa and green card permitting him to travel to and reside permanently in the United States. 3/8/12 Tr. 192:14-19 (I. Aleksova). The Defendant moved to the United States in 2005, and for the most part resided with his sister until the time of his arrest. 3/13/12 Tr. 3:25-4:21 (I. Aleksova). The Defendant claimed to have worked in the real estate industry during this time frame, but this claim has not been independently verified. 3/20/12 Tr. 56:16-25 (A. Stribling Riley). Prior to his arrest, the Defendant had never been diagnosed with or treated for mental illness. Nor did the Defendant disclose his hallucinations or delusions to his sister. 3/13/12 Tr. 5:23-25 (I. Aleksova). The Defendant displayed unusual behavior prior to his arrest in connection with this case, including leaving a voicemail for his mother indicating he wanted to drink her blood. 3/13/12 Tr. 27:12-16 (A. Stribling Riley). It now appears that incident was the result of the Defendant's auditory hallucinations, id., but at the time his family did not recognize the Defendant as being mentally ill.

C. Defendant's Mental Health Condition

1. Diagnosis and Symptomatology

The Defendant suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. 3/8/12 Tr. 15:9-13 (P. Montalbano); id. at 85:13-15 (R. Keisling); 3/13/12 Tr. 24:24-25:1 (A. Stribling Riley). For the Defendant, this condition is characterized primarily by prominent, bizarre delusions, in other words, improbable or absurd fixed false beliefs. 3/8/12 Tr. 15:16-20 (P. Montalbano). These delusions are " persistent" and " well-encapsulated." Id. at 48:15. Prior to his arrest in connection with this case, the Defendant suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations: distortions in the perception of reality. 3/13/12 Tr. 27:5-28:16 (A. Stribling Riley); 3/20/12 Tr. 14:9-21 (A. Stribling Riley). It does not appear the Defendant has suffered from hallucinations since his arrest. 3/8/12 Tr. 16:9-17:15, 78:2-5 ...


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