The attorney for a man committed to mental facilities for killing a Lafayette psychiatrist in 1993 says he’ll ask an appeals court to override a district judge’s decision that is keeping his client confined to a state-run group home in Baton Rouge where his freedom is restricted.
Attorney Thomas Guilbeau on Thursday alerted 15th District Judge John Trahan of the decision to ask for a 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal review of Trahan’s ruling on Jan. 22 that has kept Clarence J. Saloom confined in the Baton Rouge facility. Guilbeau said in court papers that Saloom’s current psychiatrist believes he would be better off in a less restrictive environment.
Saloom was found not guilty by reason of insanity after he killed Dr. Joseph Henry Tyler Jr. on April 10, 1993, at the Acadiana Mental Health Center on Dulles Drive. Saloom, 65, a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of drug abuse, was in a delusional rage when he stabbed Tyler after the doctor informed him he was to be institutionalized.
Tyler, an internist/psychiatrist, was the head of Region 4 for the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. The DHH facility where Tyler died was renamed the Dr. Joseph Henry Tyler Jr. Behavioral Health Clinic.
Bobbie Tyler, who is Dr. Tyler’s widow, on Thursday said Saloom should remain under the state’s watch because he is still a threat. She said she fears for herself and her two adult daughters, one of whom lives in Lafayette and the other in Metairie. Bobbie Tyler moved back to her hometown of Opelousas after her husband’s death.
“My life will never ever be the same, and neither will my children’s. (Saloom) knew what he was doing” when he killed Dr. Tyler, Bobbie Tyler said. “He brought that knife from his house.”
Guilbeau contends Saloom is no longer a danger after years of therapy and medicine.
Saloom has been in a state mental hospital and group forensic homes for the past 19 years. At his current facility, Legacy Recovery House in Baton Rouge, Saloom has shown independence by making his own doctor appointments and arranging transportation for himself, Guilbeau said in court filings. Saloom has even signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, known as “Obamacare,” Guilbeau wrote.
Dr. Robert Blanche, Saloom’s psychiatrist since 2013, is recommending Saloom be at a place where he can exercise and make friends and share “experiences in the larger community in order to progress, none of which is available to him (at) Legacy,” Guilbeau wrote in December, before Judge Trahan denied Saloom’s request.
Saloom was committed to the East Louisiana State Hospital at Jackson in 1995 after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. There, doctors treated him for schizophrenia, paranoia and drug usage using a combination of behavioral therapy and anti-psychotic medicine.
In 2005, doctors determined Saloom remained mentally ill but that he was no longer a threat to himself or others. He was granted a conditional release and placed in a Baton Rouge halfway house for mentally ill men in Baton Rouge called Harmony House.
However, Saloom was still not given the freedom to leave the facility without approval from Judge Trahan. That condition, Guilbeau wrote, was “much more restrictive than it was at Jackson,” where Saloom enjoyed the “status equivalent to a trusty in prison.” Trahan approved Saloom’s transfer to Legacy in 2013.
Guilbeau’s written request in December to the judge does not indicate where exactly Saloom would reside if he’s granted a release.
The attorney on Thursday declined comment about the case, saying the documents “speak for themselves.”
But Guilbeau does write that Saloom would continue taking medications and that he would be “inactively supervised.”
Bobbie Tyler said she still struggles with the loss of her husband.
“It’s easy for him (Saloom) to go on with his life,” she said, “but I can’t go on with mine; my children can’t go on with theirs. All we have is a tomb or a grave to go to.”
Follow Billy Gunn on Twitter, @BillyGunnAcad.