A hearing Friday meant to address jail conditions for a Renton man accused of killing his grandparents
turned into a tense discussion about medical and psychiatric records and allegations of retaliation by
King County Jail staff.
The hourlong hearing before King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North came to an abrupt end when a
frustrated Michael Chadd Boysen announced he wanted to leave the courtroom and started heading for the door.
Jail guards quickly surrounded him and escorted him out.
According to a defense motion filed last month, Boysen has spent up to 10 hours at a time strapped to a hard, plastic restraint board, and he recently spent about 20 straight days strapped to a restraint bed. Allowed only one hour out of his cell a day, Boysen has been subjected to “repeated restrictions of even the most basic sensory input after incidents of self harm,” a situation that has worsened his mental-health problems, the motion says.
But North, who had another hearing scheduled, ran out of time before issues raised by the defense in its motion could be addressed. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 23.
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“So my conditions of confinement have to suffer because you don’t have time?” Boysen said to North.
The judge tried to explain he had limited authority to issue orders to jail staff, and Boysen replied: “Who has authority? Nobody?”
Accused in the March 9 slayings of Robert and Norma Taylor in their Renton home hours after his release from prison on a burglary charge, Boysen has been jailed since a standoff and suicide attempt at an Oregon motel three days after the killings.
While in custody, Boysen has attempted suicide or harmed himself at least 12 times and has spent much of his time in King County Jail strapped to a restraint bed or the backboard, according to his attorneys, James Conroy and Scott Ketterling.
Because of restrictive and punishing conditions in the jail, Conroy and Ketterling have said Boysen doesn’t want to present a so-called “mitigation package” outlining reasons why King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg should not seek the death penalty. According to the defense, Boysen is mentally ill but has lost the will to live because of his treatment in jail.
Complicating things is the fact that there are two King County deputy prosecutors handling the aggravated first-degree-murder case against Boysen, while another deputy prosecutor is representing the King County Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention and the public-health employees who provide jail medical services.
Because the jail is not a party to the murder case, North acknowledged his limited authority in issuing court orders to jail officials.
At the beginning of the hearing, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Wyman Yip asked the judge to issue subpoenas so the state can get Boysen’s complete medical and psychiatric records.
Yip said Boysen’s records are needed because the state has the burden of proving his mental state at the time of the alleged killings and Satterberg “has an obligation to make a fully informed decision” about whether to seek the death penalty.
North agreed to sign for the subpoenas, adding that the defense can address issues about privileged information in the records at the hearing later this month.
Conroy, the defense attorney, then criticized Deputy Prosecutor Nancy Balin, who is representing the jail, for her late filing of a response to the defense motion about conditions in the jail. He also requested interviews with a number of jail officials, including a captain he said retaliated against Boysen by giving him an infraction because grout was missing from his cell wall.
“I’d also ask this court to order … that the jail not retaliate against Mr. Boysen. Ms. Balin is laughing back there; I guess she thinks it’s funny,” Conroy said.
When Balin responded that jail staff have not and will not engage in retaliation, Boysen let out a soft, “Ha!”
Later, Conroy pleaded with the judge to allow Boysen to have access to books other than the Bible or the Quran.
Balin responded that she could tell Conroy and North “what the problem is with giving Mr. Boysen another book” — in open court and in front of members of the media — but “I doubt he wants me to do that.”
Boysen jumped to his feet: “I have never hurt myself with a book! I don’t know what kind of crazy ideas they have … this is absolutely ridiculous.”
Information from Seattle Times archives is included in this report.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org