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Slaying Suspect Has Mental Ills, His Sister Says

October 15, 1987|Associated Press

SACRAMENTO — A man accused of killing a Baptist minister and wounding another man in a shooting spree at a downtown intersection has a history of mental illness, his sister said Wednesday.

"When this illness takes over, he can't control himself," Sharon Vance said in an interview with the Roseville Press-Tribune.

Vance said her brother, Ronald Nesbitt, of Roseville was diagnosed as a paranoid-schizophrenic in 1978 and had been in and out of state mental hospitals since 1972. There was no immediate confirmation of Vance's comments from state officials.

Nesbitt, 34, was arrested Tuesday and booked for investigation of murder and attempted murder in the fatal shooting of the Rev. Sim Walton Jr., 72, and the wounding of Thomas Pruitt, 70, as they waited with a group of pedestrians on a corner.

Vance said her brother began showing signs of mental problems while he was in the U.S. Army in Germany. "We knew something was going to happen," Vance said. "We knew he was going to snap."

She said their mother tried unsuccessfully to get help for her son through government agencies.

"I am very angry and I am very frustrated because of the ways the laws are. It (the shooting) could have been prevented and it makes me mad," Vance said.

Cherie Rogers told the Press-Tribune that she had been living with Nesbitt for the last month. She said he began changing two weeks ago.

"He just wasn't the same person I thought he was," she said. "His moods started changing. He started mumbling a lot of weird stuff."

She said he came home Tuesday afternoon and told her, "I just shot two black guys."

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