Current Status of william hamilton ayres (conservatee of daughter Barbara Ayres of Sacramento) child molestation case:
October 31, 2012: william hamilton ayres has been declared competent. Judge Grandsaert approved the certification from Napa State Hospital that ayres is competent to assist in his own defense against the multiple charges related to his molestation of many young boys.
Bail was set at $900,000.00 and the criminal proceedings have been re-instated. Criminal re-trial is scheduled for March 11, 2013 at 8:45am. Defense attorney McDougall estimates that the trial will take 6 to 9 weeks.
In Court this morning:
Defense attorney Bentley’s closing arguments:
Bentley was brief. He was brash and a bit condescending in his presentation. He spent some time fawning over the “very impressive” testimony of Shyster McDougall and he pointedly referred to the Medina vs California case, and made it sound as if McDougall’s diagnosis of ayres mental condition was the most significant of all opinions.
He told the judge that the defense only has a “low” burden of proof. And he told the judge that he had to decide if the opinion of Dr. McIlnay was more significant that the opinion of Dr. Amanda Gregory, and Dr. Good, and …..(he listed every doctor who stated that ayres showed some degree of incompetence.) and then he did the same for every doctor who didn't claim malingering on their reports.
Bentley concluded (or at least I stopped taking notes about his angry blathering) by taking some jabs at McIlnay, about how long he had been licensed, etc…
Prosecutor McKowan’s closing arguments:
McKowan’s closing arguments were also very brief. McKowan read the judge very well. She saw that he was impressed with McIlnay, and she hammered some points home about McIlnay: She recapped that McIlnay knew and respected that much was at stake for ayres, and that he didn't take his charge lightly; he focused intently on the PROCESS of arriving at a conclusion, not on what the foregone conclusion should be, or was expected to be.
McKowan pointed out that more significant than the “unique” perspective brought to the case by defense attorney McDougall’s testimony, was the testimony brought by the staff who spent the most time with ayres in a non-clinical setting. McKowan also pointed out that the new process used by Napa State to have more compartmentalized forensic examination worked very well in this case, that when admitting Doctor (Leppert?) first began to deal with ayres, she realized that there were some red flags in the case, and immediately got the FCLS group (McIlnay’s group) involved in the case in order to deal with some of the staff issues that may arise, due to the already apparent “foregone conclusion” attitude of the evaluating doctors.
McKowan laid into Dr. Sutherland. She noted that he was hostile, evasive, and uncomfortable on the stand, and that he had “Absolutely abdicated his responsibility because of who ayres was” She then contrasted with McIlnay, stating that he’d interviewed every person who had contact with ayres, read hundreds of pages of reports, jail records, etc.
McKowan took a dig at all of the other psychologists as well, she said that Gregory, Warnick, and even to an extent Dr. Good all base their livelihood on the collection of tests that they claim are subtle and sophisticated, and they feel that therefore they are undefeatable tests. McKowan reminded the court that ayres has 50 years of experience as a highly respected psychiatrist and 20 years as a forensic evaluator for the court… (if anyone could defeat the tests, it would be someone like ayres. ) In fact, she said he could easily fake the results.
Then Judge Grandsaert allowed defense attorney Bentley to make his rebuttal statement, but admonished him NOT to address the list of doctors, that he shouldn't assume that the sheer number of doctors constitutes a preponderance of evidence. And he admonished him not to tell the court how the court needs to go about making its decision.
Bentley: Is it more likely that McIlnay is correct, or that all the others were? (Etc… basically doing exactly the first thing the judge just admonished him not to do, but without listing all the names.)
Bentley said that if the judge found the report of (prosecution witness) Dr. Good to be reliable, then he should find that ayres is not competent and not malingering. (basically doing exactly the second thing the judge just admonished him not to do.)
It was clear from watching the judge's face that Bentley's mis-steps were NOT lost on the judge.
The judge then immediately issued his decisions:
The judge talked about the Medina case too. Details flew by too fast for me to catch, but basically, his point was that while Medina did acknowledge that a defense attorney is in a unique position to know his client’s mental state, it also acknowledges the complexity of the determination of psychological issues, that psychiatry is based on medical impressions drawn from subjective analysis, etc… basically he threw the Medina case back at Bentley.
Grandsaert acknowledged that the preponderance of the evidence must be upheld. To wit:
Grandsaert found that ayres’ conduct and statements made while under observation at Napa State Hospital fly in the face of all claims made about incompetence.
Grandsaert found the results of ALL of the examinations to be unreliable.
Grandsaert stated that the testimony/report of Dr. Good in and of itself was enough to convince him that ayres is competent, and the testimony/report of Dr. Warnick on it’s own would convince him that ayres is competent, and that the report of Dr. McIlnay on its own would convince him that ayres is competent.
His finding was that ayres is competent and at the very least deliberately exaggerating his symptoms.
Criminal Proceedings were re-instated.
They then moved on to the bail determination. McDougall was in another courtroom on another matter when they started, but the judge said that he felt that the law required him to set bail pretty much immediately, so they proceeded:
Bentley argued that the original bail was $750K (Actually it was higher than that, but was reduced - McKowan pointed this out as well) and he said that ayres’ physical and mental state has clearly deteriorated so much that he needed to have a MUCH lower bail set so that he could be free to see his own doctors and stuff.
McKowan went large asking for $2M, citing ayres’ long term manipulation of the court, reports from Napa about incidents where he shoved one of the doctors while enraged, the “grooming” behavior, etc. She called his actions a “Gross manipulation.”
Grandsaert stated that he was concerned about the defendant’s willingness to return to court at this point. He noted that ayres made suicide statements while at Napa, and that McIlnay reported that ayres asked him to just “let me go” so that he could go hide somewhere with his wife. (I heard from our observer yesterday that ayres also said that the two of them would change their names and go into hiding)
Grandsaert said that he feels that ayres has a different motivation now than he did before (suicide, fleeing from the law, generally avoiding prosecution, etc...) , and so he set bail at $900K.
McDougall walked into the courtroom at the tail end of the bail discussion, and asked the judge to set up a bail hearing at a later time, as he felt that ayres' record of always showing up, with no violations of any kind should have some consideration. That hearing was not set yet. I assume it will come in the not-very-distant future.
The criminal re-trial was scheduled: March 11, 2013. The reason for the delay is that McDougall is on trial until mid December of this year, and he thinks he needs 90 days to prep for the trial, which he estimates will take 6 to 9 weeks.
I don't think the ayres have enough money left to pay for 90 days of prep, let alone 9 weeks of trial. I think we can assume that there will be some push for a plea bargain, or the termination of an attorney for a lower cost option in the near future.
Bentley was a poor choice to handle this matter: he was pushy and Grandsaert didn't like it at all. Our observer from yesterday noted that Bentley’s disdain toward the staff witnesses was palpable even before they took the stand, and it was clear to everyone that Grandsaert found their testimony significant. Bentley clearly expressed derision toward McIlnay, and Grandsaert was clearly very keyed to his report and testimony. Bentley should have picked up on these cues like everyone else in the courtroom did, and tempered his ire. Badly misplayed.
Reactions to the finding:
When ayres entered the courtroom in the morning he was pissed and hangdog looking. he kept his head down the whole time. If his eyes weren’t open, I’d have guessed he was sleeping.
No reaction at all when the judge issued his finding. I was watching ayres, and didn’t see the idiot supporters, but there was no readily apparent commotion or noise from their little corner, so I assume they were generally flat reactions as well.
The judge spent the better part of his finding very politely, and very subtly rubbing Bentley's face in the mess.
To succeed in other trades, capacity must be shown; in the law, concealment of it will do.
ayres has had significant interaction over the years with local politicians on boards like the "Children and Families First Commission," including the DA who was serving when prosecution began Jim Fox and Assemblyman Rich Gordon. In fact, Gordon nominated ayres for a lifetime achievement award for his "Tireless effort to improve the lives of children." ayres has also been vocally supported during his criminal trial by local head-shrinkers like Bart Blinder, Etta Bryant, Mel Blaustein, Harry Coren, Tom Ciesla, Robert Kimmich, Larry Lurie, Maria Lymberis, Richard Shadoan, Captane Thomson, and Harold Wallach.