Pleading with those in his courtroom he has no other choice, a judge has released a man charged with murder.
Oklahoma County District Judge Ray Elliot granted the release to Earl Bradford Postelle, 42, who is charged with the Memorial Day murders in 2005.
“I find it incredible this is the position I’m in and the community is in,” Judge Elliot told the courtroom.
Postelle previously was found incompetent to stand trial for the murders and under state law would be placed in an appropriate setting by the state Department of Human Services. But because Judge Elliot previously ruled Postelle to still be a danger to the community, the options of placement are limited.
DHS had placed Postelle in a nursing home facility in Jones. Public outrcry, led by nursing home watchdog Wes Bledsoe, helped force the situation back in court.
Postelle had been taken to the hospital by the nursing home a few weeks ago in an emergency without the judge’s knowledge, a violation of his court order. When the hospital released Postelle, he sat unattended at the hospital before OklahomaCounty deputies spotted him and booked Postelle in the OklahomaCounty jail.
But under state law, a person found incompetent to stand trial cannot be jailed.
All sides in the matter met in court last week and were ordered by Judge Elliot to come up with a solution. At a hearing Friday afternoon, a plan had been developed to place Postelle back in the nursing home with tight restrictions.
However, a hitch developed in the plan when the facility, LivingOaksCenter, decided not to take Postelle back. That left the judge with few options.
“I don’t see that I have any other choice but to release him,” Elliot said. “It’s not appropriate but it’s the law.”
As a condition of the release, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater (pictured) presented the judge a list of requirements Prater wanted to see implemented, including:
” house confinement,
” a GPS ankle monitor,
” no visits from anyone with a felony, and
” no leaving the county without court permission.
Judge Elliot adopted the restrictions.
As upset as many in the courtroom were at the circumstance, there was equal disgust with the state statute.
“This is one of the poorest written statutes in my 28 years in law,” Elliot said.
Prater said the Legislature is aware of the problem and may do something about it. Prater said he spoke with Rep. Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, who is chairman of the House Health Committee.
Bledsoe said he also spoke with Steele and believes something may get done this time. Two years ago, after an Oklahoma Gazette investigation into sex and violent offenders being placed in nursing homes, Steele chaired a hearing into the matter.
One of Bledsoe’s suggestions was to build a separate facility for offenders in need of care, but no action was taken by Steele or the legislature. “Scott Cooper