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Man, 28, Dies in Apparent Suicide at Patton State Hospital

The facility was already under federal investigation for its treatment of patients. Patton had two homicides last year.

January 05, 2006|Rong-Gong Lin II | Times Staff Writer

A 28-year-old man died this week in an apparent suicide at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, which is being investigated by federal authorities for its treatment and care of patients.

Shane Williams was found about 7:30 p.m. Monday hanging from a closet in his room, said Patton Executive Director Octavio Carlos Luna. A bedsheet was tied around his neck, Luna said.

He was declared dead at the scene, according to the San Bernardino County coroner's office. An autopsy has been ordered.

Williams had been a patient at the mental hospital for about a month, Luna said. He was there after being found incompetent to stand trial. It was not disclosed what Williams had been charged with.

The hospital will investigate the suicide, the facility's third since 2003, Luna said. In general, hospital staffers do rounds every half-hour to check on patients, he said.

The suicide comes as the Justice Department is investigating Patton State Hospital as part of a broad-ranging probe of California's mental hospitals.

Patton had two homicides last year, the first slayings at the facility since 1994. Two patients, Jason Porter, 32, and Tom Smith, 43, were charged in the September slaying of their 50-year-old roommate, Robert Lucas, who was choked and stabbed.

In December, Samuel Gomez Galindo, 33, was charged in the slaying of Dwight Wenholz, a 43-year-old patient. Galindo committed suicide two weeks later while being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.

In recent years, the Justice Department has issued highly critical reports of Napa State Hospital and Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk. Among other things, they found that staffers did not do enough at the two hospitals to prevent patients from harming themselves or one another.

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