Evan Rapoza says the voices inside his head told him to hurt people. In February, the 21-year-old allegedly beat, strangled and nearly drowned 50-year-old Michael Kuligoski, a furnace repairman working at his St. Johnsbury home.
Less than a year later, the department of mental health told a judge that Rapoza can safely transition to an outpatient facility.
"The department's position is that Mr. Rapoza is ready for discharge from the hospital. He will remain in the care and custody of the commissioner of mental health," Vt. Assistant Attorney General Kristin Chandler said.
Rapoza was ordered to the Vermont State Hospital after February's attack. Psychiatrists there diagnosed him as paranoid schizophrenic and began treating him with a series antipsychotic medications. Doctors say this regime is an effective way to control Rapoza's homicidal and suicidal compulsions.
"I would not advocate that Evan remain in a locked facility," Dr. Cory Nohl said.
Nohl now treats Rapoza at the Brattleboro Retreat where he's been housed since the state hospital closed after Tropical Storm Irene. He says if Rapoza stays on his meds, keeps all treatment appointments and avoids illicit drugs and alcohol, transferring to Chrysalis House-- an outpatient treatment facility in Waterbury-- would be in his best interest and could be done safely.
"This is an opportunity for Evan to build on the progress he's made in terms of stabilization with medications and move on to a modality of treatment that isn't available in the in-patient setting," Nohl said.
But prosecutors disagree with the early discharge, saying the request comes too soon.
"The state wants to see a substantial period of time pass to ensure that all of his prescriptions are successful," said Benjamin Luna, the deputy state's attorney in Caledonia County.
Prosecutors believe Rapoza remains a danger to himself and the public, arguing the severity of the crime combined with his complicated mental health history warrants more time in a secure facility.
"We want Mr. Rapoza to succeed in his hospitalization and his recovery, but more importantly, we want the public protected and we want the public safety ensured from Mr. Rapoza," Luna said.
State prosecutors say Michael Kuligoski remains hospitalized from the attack. He recently underwent brain surgery and is expected to be permanently disabled.
Friday, March 7 2014 9:00 AM EST2014-03-07 14:00:02 GMT
The state of Vermont released new evidence in hopes of keeping a Manchester woman behind bars. Fifty-year-old Patricia Kane was arrested on charges of interfering with the custody of a minor in January.More >>
The state of Vermont released new evidence in hopes of keeping a Manchester woman behind bars.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 11:41 PM EST2014-03-07 04:41:04 GMT
The Randolph man who admitted to murdering his niece in 2008 will be sentenced this spring. In August Michael Jacques struck a deal with federal prosecutors. He gave up his right to an appeal and pleadedMore >>
The Randolph man who admitted to murdering his niece in 2008 will be sentenced this spring.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 11:40 PM EST2014-03-07 04:40:13 GMT
It's a real estate deal between UVM and the Queen City that could end up kicking some non-profits to the curb. The Burlington School District voted Thursday night on half of the multi-million dollar deal.More >>
It's a real estate deal between UVM and the Queen City that could end up kicking some non-profits to the curb.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 7:53 PM EST2014-03-07 00:53:09 GMT
'Tis the season-- as winter winds down frost heaves and potholes arrive. The ups and downs of the 2014 winter can be seen and felt. No route or road is spared. And just adding to the frustration-- theMore >>
The deep freeze is making for some rough roads across our region and it's also contributing to a fuel shortage. Shelby Cashman has more.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 7:56 PM EST2014-03-07 00:56:36 GMT
The pothole problem knows no boundaries. Our neighbors to the north are also dealing with rough roads. The Quebec Transportation Ministry budgeted $260 million for winter road maintenance. But crews haveMore >>
Our neighbors to the north are also dealing with rough roads.More >>