Pixel Tracker

Wednesday, February 20 , 2019, 4:21 am | Fair 41º

 
 
 
 

Judge to Review Medical Reports Before Ruling on Hatchet Killer’s Release

Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge on Thursday postponed ruling on the release of Nicholas Bendle, who used a hatchet to partially decapitate a man after a psychotic break in Santa Maria six years ago, saying he needs time to review various medical reports.

Santa Maria Judge John McGregor delayed a decision in the case until at least Dec. 4.

Bendle has been confined at Patton State Hospital, where medical professionals cited his “complete recovery” in recommending the release.

On the morning of Aug. 1, 2009, Bendle, then 20, attacked Frederick Holgate, 69, with a hatchet, partially decapitating him during an early morning walk on South Miller Street, just south of Stowell Road.

The two men did not know each other.

Two years later, Bendle pleaded guilty to first-degree murder as attorneys on both sides agreed he was legally insane at the time of the killing.

While informal talks about Bendle’s potential release have been ongoing for most of this year, Thursday marked the first time Deputy Public Defender Patty Dark and Deputy District Attorney Kevin Duffy submitted the matter to the court officially seeking a ruling regarding the release into an outpatient facility.

Court officials have been wrestling with whether to release Bendle into outpatient treatment, including exploring an interim step before granting him freedom. Bendle hasn’t been in court for the discussions held several times this year.

Normally patients would be released from a state hospital to a halfway house with intensive supervision for at least 90 days, and later a board-and-care facility.

However, one plan called for him to be sent to another mental hospital in Sylmar as an interim step before his release. But that facility’s medical staff determined Bendle wouldn’t benefit from being in their program because of the “completeness of his recovery,” according to Dark.

On Thursday, Duffy and Dark held two private meetings with the judge.

Later, Dark said the judge will review several reports, including those from Patton State Hospital, the Sylmar facility and Dr. John Schipper, the outgoing director of the California Forensics Conditional Release Program, dubbed CONREP and part of the California Department of State Hospitals.

“It is my understanding every single report on Mr. Bendle is favorable,” Dark said. 

McGregor said he has requested copies of the reports and clinical studies to review prior to the Dec. 4 hearing.

Bendle’s release would come as CONREP switches providers after MHM Services, based in Vienna, Va., won the contract to operate the program for the state.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.