WARREN - A judge ruled Wednesday that a Warren man now housed in a facility for the criminally insane should not be transferred to a less restrictive level in the hospital.
The ruling means James Hubbard - who was found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity more than 20 years ago - must remain at what's known as a Level 3, where he is allowed to roam the grounds of Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon without any supervision.
Hubbard, through doctors treating him at the facility, was seeking to move to Level 4, which would have allowed him access to locations outside of the hospital property, such as restaurants, movie theaters and other types of field trips that would be supervised by hospital staff members. Hubbard, who is a veteran, goes off-grounds to a Veterans Administration hospital in Canton.
Tribune Chronicle / Christopher Bobby
James Hubbard of Warren was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the shooting death of a Howland woman in 1991.
''In the court's opinion, he presents a danger at Level 4,'' Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay said in his ruling from the bench after testimony from a Heartland doctor.
McKay mentioned the one-on-one supervision by a staff member, who is a non-police staff member, was not a secure enough environment to suit him.
Hubbard, 46, was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of motorist Sallie Beatty, 21, of Howland, in an apparent random violent act Sept. 12, 1991, at the former Taco Bell on Youngstown Warren Road, Niles.
Diagnosed as a chronic paranoid schizophrenic who once spoke to news reporters about his brain receiving voice-like signals about the "spies'' who were after him, Hubbard was never convicted of firing his .38-caliber gun at an Austintown brunette in a red car moments before shooting Beatty, also brunette.
''This was the proper decision. We're relieved. We couldn't be more pleased,'' said a group that identified themselves as sisters and family members of Beatty.
A sister of Hubbard's, who also attended the proceeding, declined to comment on the judge's decision.
But Hubbard's attorney Matt Pentz said he expects to appeal the judge's decision, reminding that Level 4 is still considered a secured status at the hospital.
The hospital still has a Level 5, which is even less restrictive and leads to what's called a conditional release.
If a conditional release is ever proposed for Hubbard, assistant prosecutor Diane Barber would be entitled to bring in her own expert to counter any doctor at the hospital.
Barber and Pentz, along with the judge, all questioned Dr. Stephen Noffsinger Tuesday after he explained that out of 150 patients at the hospital, about 100 are forensic patients and placed there by the courts.
Many of the forensic patients are murderers, judged either insane or incompetent, Noffsinger said. He said treatment is designed to eventually allow the patients total freedom.
Under questioning by Barber, Noffsinger testified that Hubbard gets medication in the form of injections every four weeks. Those injections started four days after Hubbard's last court hearing.
Barber also brought out the fact that another doctor noted on a chart that earlier this year, Hubbard said that when he shot Beatty he was in ''the right state of mind.'' Hubbard also told the doctor he doesn't feel he has a mental illness and he doesn't need medication.
''It's un-American to keep me in there. And it's certainly unholy to keep me there. Medicine makes me look crazy. It messes with my nervous system,'' Hubbard told the judge at a hearing in January 2010.