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Judge says man can be forcibly medicated

Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple Trumbull County Public Defender Matthew Pentz, right, confers with James Hubbard during a Friday hearing regarding Hubbard’s medication. The hearing was held before Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay, who ruled that Hubbard can be forcibly given medication by staff at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon.

WARREN — A judge on Friday ruled that a man confined to a psychiatric facility since the 1991 murder of a motorist can be given medication against his will.

James Hubbard, 51, appeared in Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay’s courtroom, where he sat handcuffed and expressionless in an orange jumpsuit as Trumbull County Assistant Prosecutor Diane Barber, public defender Matthew Pentz and medical professionals from Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon discussed his mental state and the need for a change to his medication.

Hubbard was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of motorist Sallie Beatty, 21, of Howland, on Sept. 12, 1991. Beatty was a dental hygenist who was on her lunch break when she was shot at point-blank range in the parking lot of the former Taco Bell on Youngstown Warren Road, Niles. Beatty, who the Tribune Chronicle reported at the time was newly married with a new house and a good job, was planning to celebrate her one-year wedding anniversary that weekend. Investigators said Hubbard also sideswiped an Austintown woman’s car in Weathersfield and shot at her at least five times just before killing Beatty.

When Hubbard appeared in court after the 1991 shooting, he glared and smiled for cameras and babbled about “mind control, the CIA, the KGB and the ghetto,” the Tribune reported.

Hubbard remains at what is known as a Level 3 facility, where he is allowed to roam the facility without any supervision. A veteran, Hubbard leaves the facility periodically to be treated at Veterans Administration hospitals in Canton or Cleveland. He was transferred on July 21, 1999, to Heartland from Timothy B. Moritz Forensic Unit in Columbus.

Psychiatrist Xiomara Simmons and psychologist Michael Christie told the court they believe a change in Hubbard’s medication is necessary because he has become guarded, suspicious, paranoid and has experienced delusions.

Both Simmons and Christie told the court that they believe Hubbard is a danger to himself and others and it is necessary to change his medications because he doesn’t think he is mentally ill and he doesn’t have the mental capacity to provide consent. Hubbard has been hearing voices, feels there is a plot by the staff to harm him and earlier this month he attacked a nurse at the facility which Christie said Hubbard justified because he thought the nurse was trying to turn him into a spy.

“Probably about the second week I was working with him I had some informal interactions with him and he began to describe some thinking which was clearly delusional in nature,” Christie said.

Barbara Ponzurik, the mother of the Austintown woman whom Hubbard shot at before killing Beatty, said it’s tough coming back to court every time Hubbard appears for a hearing..

“I think it’s terrible that we have to come back here all the time, see him and relive this,” she said.

Beatty’s sisters, who declined to provide their names, said they want to make sure Hubbard never has the ability to harm anyone else and they felt that Friday’s ruling was in their favor as well as Hubbard’s.

jwysochanski@tribtoday.com

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