BREMERTON — Despite Amber Lynn James, 47, of Bremerton, being declared competent to stand trial Feb. 8, experts say she was “legally insane” at the time she killed her 9-year-old son Ryan Taylor Rosales on Oct. 31, 2017.
Her mental state was determined by both Washington state’s expert, Dr. Jacqueline Means, a forensic psychologist with Western State Hospital, and her defense’s expert, Dr. Mark McClung, a forensic psychiatrist.
According to a statement from Caleb Cunningham, James’ public defense attorney, Means said James “experienced auditory hallucinations and delusional ideations for several days, culminating in ‘markedly intense symptoms of psychosis on the day of the alleged events.’ ” Means said James “was unable to tell right from wrong with respect to the acts charged as a result of active symptoms of a mental illness.”
McClung’s report was similar, saying James “experienced paranoid delusions that prevented her from acting rationally or accurately perceiving reality,” Cunningham said. McClung also reported James’ “paranoia had the added consequence of causing her to mistrust anyone (family, friends, law enforcement) who could have — and in several instances did — try to help her through the crisis.”
“Given what I know about this case and about my client, I’m not at all surprised by these experts’ conclusions,” Cunningham said.
“I’ve spoken with numerous family and friends who describe her as a sweet and caring mother. Her intense delusional state is the only explanation for her actions in this case.”
Cunningham said he’s filed a motion asking the judge to find James “not guilty by reason of insanity,” which would mean James would be committed to a Western State Hospital lockdown facility “for an indeterminate time, not to exceed the statutory maximum sentence.” In this case, the maximum sentence would be life in prison, so James could potentially spend the rest of her life in the hospital if the judge agrees to the motion, Cunningham explained.
However, it also means James “could have the chance to eventually integrate back into society in small, incremental steps,” depending on her progress in treatment.
Passing the motion would also eliminate a trial and James would waive her right to contest the charges or her detention in the hospital.
“This is exactly what my client wants — to avoid a trial and to be committed to Western State Hospital,” Cunningham said.
“Amber has now had to retell and relive these events for two different experts,” he said. “It is painful and difficult for her to talk about, not only because she is grieving the loss of her son, but also because she is grappling with the reality of her own actions and struggling to understand what caused her to do this.
“It’s as if she woke from a nightmare only to learn that the events she remembers are real,” Cunningham said.
“She does not want to relive that publicly in front of a jury. She does not want to make her grieving family members come in and testify about her behavior, and she certainly has no desire to put Ryan’s father through the agony of a public trial.”
The judge’s decision regarding the motion will be made at a hearing at 1:30 p.m. May 18.
For previous coverage on this case, read past Kitsap News Group articles online at bit.ly/2L3A82U and bit.ly/2wMOHoE.
— Michelle Beahm is the online editor for the Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.