Ard release proceedings stalled by examiner’s death

LIHU‘E — Raymond Ard’s latest bid to gain conditional release from the Hawai‘i State Hospital has been delayed by the sudden death of his psychiatric examiner.

Ard has resided in the hospital for 15 years, following his acquittal by reason of insanity in the 2005 killing of Waimea Valley resident and retired physician Dr. Jon Kerns.

Ard’s defense and the Kaua‘i Office of the Prosecuting Attorney have received three medical experts’ reports on Ard’s present condition in the past month. However, on Tuesday, substitute defense attorney Kellen Akamu moved to dismiss the report made by Dr. Gerald McKenna.

“At this point, we’ll be making a motion to appoint an examiner to replace Dr. McKenna, since he passed away,” Akamu said before Judge Kathleen Watanabe. “The defense has a right to cross-examine the contents of the report. This makes it impossible to move forward.”

The prosecution did not oppose the defense’s motion, agreeing “the defense has that right.”

In the month before the examiner’s death, the prosecutor’s office resisted a prior attempt to strike McKenna’s report.

Watanabe characterized that October memo as “strenuous opposition,” when speaking in court on Tuesday.

An O‘ahu psychiatrist was ultimately appointed to take on McKenna’s role.

McKenna’s obituary, which ran in the Nov. 19 edition of The Garden Island, described him as a “humble community psychiatrist, a physician leader and expert in the evaluation and treatment of substance-use disorder.”

Proceedings in Ard’s case will resume in January.

If Ard’s conditional release is granted and he is discharged from the custody of the state Department of Health director, he could be placed in another hospital or a 24-hour group home. But last month, his public defender Marissa Agena said that possibility is “far away” in the future.

“We’re still examining whether or not (conditional release) is appropriate for him,” Agena said at the time. “Then he would work with the state hospital on what the discharge plan from the hospital would be.”

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