The criminal charges against Paul Henry Crest, 83, Bay Township have been dismissed as Crest was found not competent to stand trial.
According to an affidavit filed with the district court, on March 15, 2020, police were called to a home in Bay Township where they found a woman with five apparent gun shot wounds and another with two gun shot wounds. The first was pronounced dead at the scene and the second taken to an area hospital for treatment.
Crest was arrested and charged with open murder, assault with intent to murder and using a firearm during the commission of a felony. Following a request by Crest’s defense counsel, the court ordered that he be evaluated relative to competency to stand trial and criminal responsibility (insanity).
At a competency hearing held on April 28, 2020, the district court received a report from the Center for Forensic Psychiatry indicating that Crest was not competent to stand trial and not capable of being restored to competency within 18 months, the legal limit to keep a criminal case pending under such circumstances.
As such, the court ruled Crest to be incompetent and directed Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof to file a petition for mental health treatment, a procedure where the probate court may order a person to be hospitalized.
On June 1, 2020, Crest was evaluated by a doctor who found that he did not fit the statutory definition of a person “requiring treatment” because though he suffers from dementia, he was not homicidal or suicidal on the day of the evaluation.
Based on this opinion, the request for medical treatment was denied. Another attempt by Telgenhof to have Crest admitted to a psychiatric hospital was similarly denied because dementia does not meet the statutory criteria required for admission.
“This is a hole in our system to be sure,” Telgenhof stated. “We have a person who has committed violent offenses but the law does not require they be in prison or in a secure mental health facility.”
“In this situation the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, working together with the family and their attorney, were able to find appropriate placement through appointment of a public guardian (on July 9) in probate court but this is not how it should have to work, in my opinion.”
“I want to give special thanks to Sheriff Chuck Vondra, Jail Administrator Derek Gaylord and the staff at the Charlevoix County Jail. They have had this defendant in their jail for three months and he is a person who requires special care and they have gone above and beyond while we tried to find an appropriate placement,” Telgenhof said.
Telgenhof said that he has written to area legislators and state legislative leaders asking that they consider changing the laws for these types of situations.
“A person who commits a violent act like this should be required to go to a secure state-run facility. To me that seems obvious,” Telgenhof said. “In this situation, the family’s attorney and the state were left to try to persuade private places to take someone in who potentially presented a risk to others. Not surprisingly no private facilities would take him.”
Only when Telgenhof indicated that he was going to dismiss the case which would result in Crest’s immediate release from jail did high level meetings in Lansing result in a placement.
“Everyone was trying their best, within our laws, to figure things out but we kept running into dead ends. Finally, the upper management at the Department of Health and Human Services agreed to craft a solution even though they were not legally required to do so. I hope that the legislature can fix this to provide guidance and support to prosecutors, jails and DHHS.”