Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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UPDATE The sad story of Park Cities native LEW PERRY-MAN goes on. On Aug. 6 of last year. Perryman shot and killed newspaper carrier DEANNA SMITH after holding hostage Judge JOHN MARSHALL and his family. (See “A Danger to Himself and Others,” February.)

The incident was the most violent yet for Perryman, who has been hospitalized 12 times, arrested twice for assault and detained on a variety of charges. But in its aftermath, a familiar pattern resumed: Perryman was sent to Vernon State Hospital, where he went back on his mood-leveling lithium. After the drugs stabilized him, Perryman was judged to be no longer a danger to himself and others. In the eyes of the law, his competency was restored. He is now awaiting trial at Terrell State Hospital-on a voluntary commitment, apparently as a condition of his release from jail on bond.

A member of Perryman’s treatment team at Terrell, who did not want to be identified, says Dr. RICHARD DAVIS, director of Adult Psychiatric Services at Terrell, has been too quick to grant Perryman privileges and freedoms. In late November, Davis signed a routine affidavit stating that Perryman would be kept in a “locked ward” and “monitored 24 hours a day.” He also stated that Perryman would continue “whatever treatment plan was developed at Vemon State Hospital.”

Not so, says the staffer. “From day one he was allowed to go out |on the grounds] with his wife. A week or two later, he was given full privileges.” That includes being able to go out on the hospital’s grounds when he likes. The institution’s gates are not locked. “We never give those privileges to new patients,” the staffer says. “They only go out under escort.” In addition, the mental health worker says that Ferryman is not participating in any meaningful therapy. “We’re here to help his criminal case, not his mental health.”

Davis, citing client confidentiality, refused even to confirm that Perryman was in Terrell. Speaking in general terms, however, he defended his hospital’s procedures. In Terrell’s parlance, Davis says, “monitoring” a patient does not mean keeping him in sight every hour of the day. A patient who signs out to go to the canteen, for instance, writes down the time he will return. “Each patient must report every hour on the hour,” Davis says. If the patient fails to show, hospital security (and Terrell police) are notified.

The Terrell staffer says that a number of staff members fell uneasy when they got their first information about Lew Perryman not from their supervisors but from the February D Magazine story. Davis says that Terrell has no patients who are “manifestly dangerous”-a claim that might give little comfort to the family of Deanna Smith.