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Posted at 11:30 AM ET, 02/25/2011

No release for Shotgun Stalker

By Keith L. Alexander

A D.C. Superior Court judge today denied the request for a one-time, 12-hour release from St. Elizabeths Hospital for James E. Swann Jr, the New Jersey man dubbed "The Shotgun Stalker' after shooting nine people in the District in 1993, four of them fatally.


In his 10-page decision, Judge Fred B. Ugast recounted testimony from two psychiatrists who said Swann, 46, still suffered from schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder.

"If Mr. Swann were released, he would be a danger to himself or others" because of his mental illness, Ugast wrote.

Swann requested the one-time conditional release from the District's psychiatric hospital so he could spend his birthday on Saturday with his father.

Swann has been a patient at St. Elizabeths since 1994, when he was declared not guilty by reason of insanity in the shootings after psychiatrists said he was driven by disembodied voices that only he could hear.

Swann's attorneys argued their client no longer suffered from delusional, paranoid schizophrenia. They said his medication and treatment had resulted in significant improvement.

But after a two-day hearing this week, Ugast was unmoved.

"There are no conditions that would be set that would eliminate the risk of harm to Mr. Swann or others if he were released at this time," he wrote.

By Keith L. Alexander  | February 25, 2011; 11:30 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse, Homicide, Keith L. Alexander, The District  
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Comments

Mr. Swann needs to realize he killed four people whose families will not celebrate their birthdays ever again. He should spent the rest of his life in a mental care facility.

Posted by: skinfreak | February 25, 2011 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Thank goodness! This is one scary nut!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous87 | February 25, 2011 6:27 PM | Report abuse

If he's on the list prohibited from buying firearms, how much harm could he do? Besides, the voices that forced him to shoot people are long, long gone. Those who cite the families of the victims forget that Swann was also a victim-- of an untreated mental illness.

They let Hinckley out after about 25 years and he shot a president. Swann's been at St. E's for about 15 years. Are you saying a man should serve less than ten additional years for shooting a president?

Posted by: blasmaic | February 25, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I think a crime is a crime. Citing a mental illness, which can never be definitively diagnosed, is just weak. I would never allow a jury I was on to cite mental illness. I just don't buy that gives you license to kill and make other poor decisions. Judge made the right decsion not to endanger the rest of us. He should be licked up for life - preferably in prison.

Posted by: biketraveller22 | February 26, 2011 6:40 AM | Report abuse

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