Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

Cop Shooter Freed Time And Again.(Final)

Byline: Chris Vogel and Barbara Chavez Journal Staff Writers

'Gap in System' Kept Him Loose

The reality is, Duc Mihn Pham was dangerous.

The question is, could anyone have seen it coming?

The homeless schizophrenic who shot and seriously wounded Albuquerque police Sgt. Carol Oleksak on Monday had been jailed numerous times.

He had been released time and again after being ruled incompetent to stand trial but not a danger to the public.

George Montoya, the head of a local community center, had many encounters with Pham and thought it was clear he should not be on the streets.

"It's my personal opinion that he ... should have been committed to a psychiatric hospital," he said.

Judge James Blackmer, who signed two orders releasing Pham, said Wednesday that forensic evaluations and psychologists' testimony showed Pham to be incompetent.

But to establish someone as a danger, state statute requires the prosecution to prove, either through testimony or by providing proof of earlier violent crime convictions, that the person does "present a serious threat of inflicting great bodily harm on another."

Blackmer said there was no such proof.

"I wish we judges could predict the future for any defendant," he said, "but we have to act on the evidence presented before us at the time."

Blackmer said that when a defendant is ruled both incompetent and not a danger, a judge has to dismiss the case.

"There's a gap in the system when someone is living on the streets and they may not be competent and they're not a danger to themselves or others," he said. …

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