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Psychiatric inmate James Hubbard denied status change

Staff photo / Guy Vogrin Defense attorney Charles Mickens, left, sits with an emotionless James Hubbard as they attend a hearing in Trumbull County Common Pleas court last month about Hubbard’s psychiatric status.

WARREN — A Trumbull County Common Pleas judge has denied extra privileges for a man confined to a psychiatric facility since the 1991 murder of a motorist parked at the former Taco Bell in Niles.

In an judgment entry this week, Judge W. Wyatt McKay said allowing legally insane murderer James Hubbard to go on group outings outside his Massillon hospital would represent “a threat to the public safety or safety of any person.”

Hubbard, 54, appeared in McKay’s courtroom May 19, where he sat handcuffed and expressionless in an orange jumpsuit listening to a staff psychiatrist at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare facility ask for fewer restrictions for him.

In his decision, McKay cited Hubbard’s long history of noncompliance with taking his medications, where he was switched to injections because he had refused to take them. McKay also said Hubbard had disobeyed various rules of his Level 3 plan of confinement because of past hallucinations.

Dr. Irina Korobkova had argued for a less restrictive confinement where Hubbard can go on group outings outside the facility, such as a city park or drive-thru restaurant. During the hearing, McKay voiced concerns about the lack of armed guards during these outings. The doctor said three staff members, not members of the hospital police department, accompanied the nine residents on the trip.

Hubbard is on a Level 3 plan, where he is allowed to roam the facility without any supervision. Hubbard leaves the facility periodically — supervised — to be treated at Veterans Administration hospitals in Canton or Cleveland.

Hubbard was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the Sept. 12, 1991, killing of motorist Sallie Beatty, 21, of Howland. Beatty was a dental hygienist 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.

The victim was newly married and planning to celebrate her first wedding anniversary when she was slain. Hubbard also sideswiped and shot at an Austintown woman’s car in Weathersfield prior to the murder.

At the time of the murder, Hubbard, a veteran, was undergoing delusions that he was being chased by spies and was suspicious of brunette women.

He was transferred July 21, 1999, to Heartland from Timothy B. Moritz Forensic Unit in Columbus.

The defendant’s status was changed in 2018 after he assaulted a nurse at Heartland after his medication was changed. Doctors ordered the change in medication because his delusions came back and he became guarded, suspicious and paranoid, Korobkova said.

In 2018, Hubbard had been hearing voices, feeling the staff had a plot to harm him, the doctor said, because he thought the nurse was trying to turn him into a spy.

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