Skip to comments.Man declared insane in N.O. airport killing
Posted on 07/11/2005 10:34:18 AM PDT by robowombat
Man declared insane in N.O. airport killing Mental state leads to acquittal; he's sent to psychiatric hospital Friday, May 20, 2005 By Drew Broach East Jefferson Bureau
Patrick Gott, the former carpenter and Marine who fatally shot a San Diego woman three years ago in the ticket lobby of Louis Armstrong International Airport, has been judged not guilty by reason of insanity and sent back to a mental hospital.
Gott, a student of Islam whose actions briefly evoked fears of terrorism eight months after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, will remain in state custody at the Feliciana Forensic Facility at Jackson. Doctors will evaluate him regularly, and should they ever declare him sane and no longer a danger to himself and others, the law allows a judge to release him. But that's not likely to happen, Assistant District Attorney Gevin Grisbaum said Thursday.
"He is irrestorably incompetent," Grisbaum said. "Will he ever get out? No."
Gott, 46, was acquitted by reason of insanity after a short trial Wednesday in Gretna before 24th District Judge Martha Sassone. Gott had been charged with the second-degree murder of Amy Michaelson, 45, a U.S. Defense Department employee, and waived his right to a jury trial.
It had taken most of the past three years and considerable medication to restore him to a level of mental competence such that he could even stand trial, according to court records.
At trial, the only real issue was whether he was insane at the time of the shooting. But there was no significant dispute about his mental state. Analysts, including one of the state's own witnesses who had examined Gott just hours after the shooting, said he was insane.
"We believe that it is more likely than not that at the time of the alleged offense, Mr. Gott was actively psychotic, delusionally paranoid and was also experiencing auditory hallucinations," forensic psychiatrist Richard Richoux and forensic psychologist Rafael Salcedo wrote in a Feb. 2 letter to Sassone.
Gott lived in Pensacola, Fla. He told a judge the day after the shooting that he had been living off Social Security disability payments since 1996. His mother said the disability was his mental condition.
Residents of his apartment complex knew him mostly in passing, seeing him wear an Islamic headdress while riding a bicycle, sometimes towing a wagon. Every electrical outlet in his apartment was covered with duct tape.
Over the years, Gott had moved around a lot, to places such as Beaufort, S.C., where he worked as a carpenter and once injured himself falling through the floor of a house, leading to bankruptcy; and Las Vegas; Kailua, Hawaii; and the Virgin Islands. He spent two years in the Marine Corps, from 1977 to 1979, as an administrative clerk, and received a general discharge.
While in Hawaii, he was treated for mental disorders in 1995 and 1996, he told investigators. His mother, Caroline Gott, said he came to fear that people were trying to poison his food, so he would not go out to eat unless accompanied by her or other relatives. He thought "the whole world was out to get him," she said.
"It was a progressive downhill mental slide with him," she said in a telephone interview Thursday.
As for the facts of the case, they were never challenged.
On May 22, 2002, Gott traveled to New Orleans with his mother and sister to put his niece, a recent high school graduate, on a plane to San Jose, Calif. As they dropped her off to catch her flight, Gott told the others he needed to use the restroom and went inside the airport building.
With him he carried a copy of the Quran and a green duffel bag. Inside the bag was a 4-foot-long PVC tube wrapped in foam. In the tube was a 12-gauge shotgun, part of its barrel and stock sawed off.
Gott propped the bag against a counter across from the Southwest Airlines ticket counter, removed the gun and fired. He tried to squeeze off a second blast but the gun jammed. As travelers ran for cover, Southwest employee Lenny Tully, aided by co-worker Ricardo Parris and customer Timothy Freeman, tackled Gott.
Afterward, Gott, a heavy-set, 6-foot-1-inch man with long red hair, a beard and mustache, told investigators that he fired the gun because someone had made fun of his headdress earlier at a restaurant near the airport. His mother and sister, who had been there with him, remembered no such incident.
Michaelson was shot in her chest and abdomen. She died four days later at Kenner Regional Medical Center.
Little is known of her life. But her estate and relatives are suing Gott, New Orleans, the airport, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office, Kenner, the Kenner Police Department and Southwest Airlines. The case is pending in District Court in Gretna.
Carolyn Gott said she and her husband, who has since died, had grown so concerned about Gott by the spring of 2002 that they made him an appointment for a mental evaluation. It was scheduled within a week after the shooting, she said.
"We were in the process of getting him some help," she said. "He recognized he needed some help.
"It's been a total tragedy." From the Times Picayune, May 20, 2005
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What muslim isn't insane?
I suppose the assistant district attorney has to say that to reassure the public. I am not so certain that a judge won't release him.
Hmmm. If medication brought him to a sufficient level of competence to stand trial and to participate in his defence, then it can some day be argued (by his attorneys) that in fact he has oversome his mental illness, and should be released.
Using our own legal system to get out of a terrible crime. Put him in jail and throw away the key. What Muslim couldn't be judged insane by liberal courts?
>So this nut may one day be walking the streets of the Crescent City wearing his towel turban and carry (a hopefully empty) piece of PVC pipe
6'1" with Red hair..sounds like Ronald McDonald. I'll keep that in mind if he's released.
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