Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
Sam Penrod ReportingA man who murdered his mother with an axe has heard his fate. But it's a case where many question if society failed both the victim and the murderer. The suspect in this case suffers from mental illness, and his mother's efforts to get him committed, failed.
The brutal murder two years ago generated support for a new law that now makes it easier to get help for the mentally ill.
Before handing down a tough sentence this afternoon, the judge acknowledged that Leonard Gall is still mentally ill, despite several months of treatment. And the judge called the extreme violence of this case a tragedy for everyone involved.
It was back in December of 2001 that Susan Gall was murdered by her own son, who used an ax to kill her. Susan Gall knew her 25-year old son Leonard had stopped taking his medication to treat a bi-polar condition. She tried to get her son committed, but could not because authorities said there was no evidence he would become violent.
But in response to her death, state lawmakers passed legislation that now makes it somewhat easier for judges to commit mentally ill people who put themselves or others at risk. While the new law comes too late for this family, defense attorneys hope Leonard Gall will get help throughout his life.
Stephen McCaughey: "He is going to be in the state hospital, he should be in the state hospital, it's where he will get the most benefit; someday he will be better."
But after doctors determine that Leonard Gall's mental illness is under control, he will be transferred from the state hospital to prison, where he faces consecutive terms of one to fifteen years in prison.
While the judge believes it's hard to find anything positive about this case, she hopes it will raise awareness to the community about the seriousness of mental illness and prevent a similar tragedy.