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Judge: No choice but to release suspect in eye-gouging
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Judge: No choice but to release suspect in eye-gouging

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RIVERTON — New insight has emerged regarding the June release of an accused eye-gouger from the Wyoming State Hospital. The elderly victim of the suspect’s attack on Thanksgiving Day died two weeks later.

In a court audio file released to The Ranger, Dr. David Carrington told Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt that it was his opinion that Patrick Lee Rose, who was born in 1967, does not pose an imminent danger to himself or others.

Carrington also spoke of a report authored by another doctor, who was not named in court, which opined that Rose could never be restored to mental competency and therefore, could not be prosecuted.

Rose was arrested on Thanksgiving Day after witnesses discovered he’d left his own hospital room at Lander SageWest Health Care, gone into the room of Elaine Tillman, gouged out one of her eyes and was damaging her other eye.

According to court documents, hospital personnel pulled Rose off the woman.

Tillman died 13 days later, of what a Utah autopsy deemed homicide.

According to court statements, Rose and Tillman were complete strangers to one another.

Tillman was in emergency care at the time of the attack.

“It’s my opinion… Mr. Rose does not meet the criteria for involuntary hospitalization (under Wyoming legal Title 25) as he is not an imminent danger to himself or others, nor is he greatly disabled and unable to care for his needs,” said Carrington in Lander Circuit Court on June 22.

Under Wyoming law, people with mental health issues can be confined by the state if they demonstrate a danger to themselves or others.

Also, under Wyoming criminal procedure, people can be confined by the state if there is probable cause they have committed a crime.

Dr. Carrington denied the first criterion for confining Rose. And the second criterion could not be established because in Wyoming, a person can’t give a plea in a criminal proceeding unless that person can first be made sane — even if the plea is “not guilty by reason of mental illness (at the time of the crime).”

Fremont County Attorney deputy Dan Stebner pushed back against the finding, asking the doctor to be very thorough in his findings and announcements if he wished to deem Rose too safe for Title 25 mental health confinement.

“The significance of this case and the events that led us here, obviously, are very troubling, to put it lightly,” said Stebner. “And before we have the court make a finding of the magnitude that it needs to make, I’d like it to be able to hear directly from the doctor who has examined Rose, and I’d also like to look at the letter to the report that Dr. Carrington provided (indicating that Rose is) not detainable.”

Carrington agreed to provide the necessary letter.

Denhardt told Stebner, Rose and Rose’s defense counsel Rob Oldham that there was no way around the medical finding.

“Under Wyoming law, the criminal process has gone to its furthest extent,” said the judge. “In some states, people in Mr. Rose’s situation can be prosecuted and convicted, and placed in a facility until they’re restored, but we don’t have that here as far as I know.”

Oldham spoke on Rose’s behalf, saying that Rose’s wife, to whose care he was released, is a nurse and had taken care of him for more than 15 years prior to the incident.

“My client should be released,” Oldham concluded.

Rose told the court last December that he had been struggling with an acquired brain injury for 18 years. Denhardt’s order to release Rose was filed June 25.

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