Man who stabbed doctor seeks release

LIHU‘E — A man who was acquitted of murder charges six years ago by reason of insanity has been  granted an examination to determine his eligibility to apply for conditional release from the custody of the Hawai‘i State Hospital.

Raymond Earl Ard appeared via video conference Tuesday before 5th Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe. The State Hospital initiated a request for the motion to appoint a three-panel board of examiners.

Watanabe, who presided over Ard’s 2005 trial, denied two previous requests for unescorted off-grounds privileges in November 2008 and December 2009.

Ard, 46, stabbed to death his friend and retired physician, Dr. Jon Kerms, of Waimea on Feb. 27, 2005, and attempted to kill his step-son, Richard Iwate.

He was convicted without a jury of first-degree attempted murder and then acquitted by reason of insanity. The second-degree murder of Kerms and second-degree attempted murder of Iwate were not tried under double-jeopardy with the attempted murder conviction.

The insanity sentence placed Ard in the custody of the state Department of Health. He has been confined to the Hawai‘i State Hospital on O‘ahu for the past six years. Ard reportedly has supervised release for work assignments and chemical addiction classes outside of the facility.

Watanabe denied past requests based on testimony of the victim’s family, the objection of the prosecution and the lack of evidence to show that Ard would no longer be a danger to himself or others.

Special Deputy Attorney General Kunio Kuwabe was present at the hearing this week. He explained his role as representing the DOH, not the Office of the Attorney General.

Klebert Jones, M.D., said Ard was taken off medications upon his arrival at the hospital and has not suffered any episodes of violence or other incidents that would require emergency medication. He added that the initial bipolar diagnosis is being reconsidered.

State Public Defender Stephanie Sato said the examination is to determine whether Ard is a danger to himself or others.

County Deputy Prosecutor John Murphy said the state would not object to another examination of the defendant.

The state has objected to and the court has denied several previous requests for privileges, Watanabe said.

In granting the request for the examination, the judge emphasized the result of the examination would determine whether the defendant is eligible to apply for supervised release. It is not an automatic approval of any subsequent request for unsupervised release, she added.

The panel of specialists will be determined by the judge and the reports were ordered due by Dec. 27. The next video-conference hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3.

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