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Attack Suspect Was Slated for Mental Testing

January 22, 1986|GARY JARLSON | Times Staff Writer

Mark Edward Hand, who is accused of splashing acid on 4-year-old Rachel Ogawa of La Habra outside a park restroom, had been under orders to begin psychiatric evaluation at the time of the attack last weekend, authorities said Tuesday.

The testing was to be carried out in connection with Hand's parole to California from a prison term he had served in Texas for burglary, according to a state Corrections Department official.

"We wanted one of our doctors to look at him, but unfortunately this incident occurred before he could get all the way through the process," said John Dowling, supervisor of the state parole unit in West Covina.

Moved to Parents' Home

Hand, 26, was placed under the supervision of Dowling's unit when he moved to his parents' home in Whittier on Dec. 24 from El Paso, where he had originally been paroled last Aug. 30. Hand had been sent to prison after pleading guilty in Houston in 1978 to burglary charges.

Although Texas prison records provided no information about any mental instability, Dowling said, Hand's family had told parole officials he had prior problems that required him to take medication.

"We received very little information on him, and it looked like we at first were just dealing with a simple burglary case," Dowling said. "But the family thought he needed some more supervision."

Dowling said that as a result of the information provided by relatives, Hand was ordered to undergo narcotics testing and parole outpatient treatment in which he would see a psychiatrist or psychologist twice a month.

Evaluation Required

"But first he has to be evaluated, which usually takes three to four weeks, to determine what kind of treatment and any medication he should receive," Dowling said. "We had just referred him, and he was in the process of having his first appointment set."

Dowling also said Hand had been arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies just three days after his return to California for allegedly shoplifting four cartons of cigarettes from a Vons market in La Mirada.

Hand, who is unemployed and is being held at Orange County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bail, is awaiting arraignment in North Orange County Municipal Court on charges of aggravated assault with a caustic chemical. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, Buena Park police still had not filed their case with the district attorney's office.

Hand was arrested Monday near his parents' home by Buena Park investigators who, acting on an anonymous tip, had tracked down what was believed to be the truck that witnesses said the Ogawa girl's assailant had driven away in following the attack Saturday afternoon at Los Coyotes Regional Park.

Family Was on Picnic

Police said Gary and Elaine Ogawa had taken Rachel and a younger daughter to the park for a picnic and were preparing to leave when the attack occurred.

While her father and sister went to get the car, Rachel and her mother stopped at a restroom.

When they came out, officers said, they were confronted by a man who quickly threw two cups of a clear liquid at the youngster.

Rachel received first- and second-degree burns on her face, arms, chest and legs from what was later identified as acetic acid, a colorless compound found in vinegar and paint solvents.

The girl was taken to St. Jude Hospital in Fullerton where she was described Tuesday as being in fair condition.

"Her vital signs are good and her parents, who were just with her, say she is feeling a lot stronger," said Norm Anderson, a hospital spokesman. "The swelling around her eyes has gone down a bit and she is taking some nourishment. She was sitting up and watching television."

Doctors treating the girl have said there is a good chance she will not suffer any permanent eye damage.

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