Voices and Silence

It was no secret that Jason Molacek heard voices telling him to murder. Cops, counselors, his parents--they all knew. So why didn't anyone stop him before he shot his mom to death?

For his part, Hatch isn't completely satisfied. He says he's hearing reports that in the wake of the settlement, insurance companies are rewriting parts of their contracts with policyholders. Heroin addicts often are ordered by courts to take methadone, for instance. Under the terms of the settlement, insurers cannot refuse to cover a service because it's court-ordered. Instead, he says, some have simply rewritten their contracts to exclude methadone.

A professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of Minnesota, Dr. George Realmuto, treated one of the children named in Hatch's lawsuit and has belonged to numerous panels and commissions charged with reforming Minnesota's child mental health system. The efforts, he quips bitterly, aren't unlike a child's experience with the system itself: With each new go-round, the patient is evaluated and given a new diagnosis. But the follow-through is terrible.

"These kids typically have really thick charts. These are long-term problems, and they require long-term treatment," he says. "It's not like a diabetes case. It impacts the family, the school, the community. But when you start saying these things to a policymaker, their eyes glaze over."

In Realmuto's opinion the root of the problem is an unwillingness to come up with the money: "If you don't capitalize the mental health system, it won't work. It's over. We're past the days when having a good heart is enough."

 

"Dr. Panciera noted that respodent claims and seems to be depressed. He indicated that he experiences vague suicidal ideation. Medical reports from the jail indicate that respondent is doing worse and his medication has been increased.... Dr. Panciera stated that respondent has been unable to function successfully outside of a structured setting and has been unable to maintain treatment and sobriety on his own. If released into the community, the respondent's functioning would soon deteriorate and he would pose a risk of violence. Dr. Panciera recommends commitment as mentally ill and dangerous to a treatment facility."

--Exhibit A, In the Matter of the Civil Commitment of Jason Molacek, March 2004

Since there was no doubt he pulled the trigger, and it was uncertain that he could meet Minnesota's narrow legal standard for insanity, Jason Molacek was found guilty of second-degree intentional murder in December during an abbreviated process known as a stipulated facts trial. If he had been found guilty of first-degree murder, Judge Nordby would have had no discretion as to his sentence: mandatory life.

As it stands, it's not entirely clear what Nordby's options are. He could not send Molacek to a state hospital, but a prison sentence seemed unlikely to do anything but worsen the young man's mental illness, the judge said during hearings on the matter. Richard Molacek petitioned a separate branch of the court system to have his son committed as mentally ill and dangerous. That commitment was ordered in March, and Molacek was to be sent to St. Peter Regional Treatment Center for a 60-day evaluation.

Not wanting him in prison, but not wanting to lose all leverage in the event Molacek is suddenly deemed cured and sent back into the community, Nordby has postponed his sentencing until later this month and has asked the attorneys on both sides of the case to research the case law on the court's options. (Because Molacek's legal case has not concluded, neither his attorney nor the county attorney's office was able to comment for this story.)

While in the Hennepin County Jail, Molacek prayed daily. According to Malmquist, he has come to view his crime in religious terms and blames himself for being too weak to resist Satan. He hopes that in the end he will be hospitalized.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't regret or have remorse, or that this should never have happened," Molacek wrote in a letter read before the court at his first sentencing hearing. "But horribly it did, and I have to face the consequences for something I can barely remember even doing. I feel that I have done the worst possible thing to a loved one, especially as loving and caring as my mother was.

"In some strange way I still can't get over the fact that all this isn't some horrible nightmare. That's why I'm asking to be put in a place such as St. Peter so I can have trained professionals look after me 24/7, monitor my meds. And mainly, help figure out why I did what I did on that day back in June."

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