A former emergency-room doctor who was committed to Western State Hospital after killing his wife with an ax and a baseball bat is being...
PORT ANGELES — A former emergency-room doctor who was committed to Western State Hospital after killing his wife with an ax and a baseball bat is being cleared to leave the hospital and live independently.
The hospital’s Risk Review Board unanimously approved Bruce Rowan’s transfer into the community, and Clallam County Superior Court Judge George Wood agreed Thursday to sign an order that will allow him to move off the hospital campus.
“Bruce has done extremely well at the hospital,” said Rowan’s lawyer, David Allen of Seattle.
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Lauren Erickson, a Clallam County deputy prosecutor, said there is nothing either prosecutors or the judge can do to block Rowan’s move because it was unanimously recommended by state psychiatrists.
Rowan will begin a 30-day transition into a Lakewood/Tacoma-area apartment near the hospital after Wood signs the order, likely by Feb. 23.
Rowan, a former Olympic Medical Center physician who turns 41 Friday, was found not guilty of his wife’s murder by reason of insanity during his jury trial and was committed to Western State in November 1998.
He bludgeoned his wife Deborah, 33, in March 1998, on the day her $500,000 life-insurance policy took effect. At trial, Rowan described killing her, putting her body in a car and rolling it down Mount Pleasant Road. Prosecutors said he was after the money and tried to conceal the death as a car crash. The defense contended he was clinically depressed and had a major psychotic episode the night his wife was killed.
Richard Fields, the father of Rowan’s slain wife, said the family is concerned that Rowan have no contact with his former adopted daughter, now 9, who was adopted by his wife’s sister and lives in Colorado. Rowan’s attorney said he would not object to that condition.