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Suspect in Janesville death returns to court

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David Brazy
July 28, 2011
— A Janesville man suspected in the stabbing death of his neighbor was in civil court Wednesday for a ruling on whether he should remain in a mental health facility.

William A. Davis, 53, of Janesville has been held at the Mendota Mental Health Institute, Madison, since July 14.


Rock County Judge Daniel Dillon determined if Davis is a danger to himself or others and should be held on a commitment in a mental health facility. The ruling is confidential and was not available Wednesday.


Davis is suspected in the July 12 stabbing of Joseph Hanson, 40. The two lived in separate units in an apartment building at 31 S. Main St., Janesville.


A downstairs neighbor called Janesville police after hearing a disturbance upstairs. Janesville police officers took Davis into custody when he attempted to assault the officers, police reported. The downstairs neighbor later found Hanson lying in a bed in Hanson’s apartment with multiple stab wounds to his torso.


Eugene Dumas, an attorney in the Rock County Corporation Counsel’s Office, said initial commitments are for a maximum of six months and must be approved by a judge. After the six months, the Rock County Human Services Board can request an extension of up to one year. At the end of every year, new requests can be filed. A judge must approve each extension.


Commitments can range from time in a mental health facility to limited supervision in the community, Dumas said. A person must be shown to be a danger to himself or herself or the public to be sent to a mental health facility.


“One of the principles the county board has is to use the least restrictive means of commitment necessary,” Dumas said.


Anyone being held on a mental commitment can file a petition to have his or her case reviewed by a judge before the commitment ends, Dumas said.


Rock County primarily relies on Mendota and the Winnebago Mental Health Institute for its commitments.


No criminal charges have been filed against Davis, Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts said.


Folts did not expect charges to be filed until District Attorney David O'Leary returns to the office next week.


If charges were filed against Davis, he would have to be found competent to stand trial. If Davis is cleared to stand trial, he could be found not guilty by mental disease or illness.


However, Folts said, mental commitments from criminal cases have different timelines and state statutes than civil mental commitments.



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