Ted Chen, Tom Bravo
A court hearing began in Santa Barbara Tuesday, May 29, to decide if David Attias should be transferred from Patton State Hospital to an outpatient treatment facility. Attias was convicted of second-degree murder and then found legally insane after striking and killing four people with his car in 2001. Ted Chen reports from Santa Barbara for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on May 29, 2012.
In 2002, David Attias was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of four people who died after Attias plowed his car into them near UC Santa Barbara and then shouted, "I am the Angel of Death."
A week later, the same jury found Attias was legally insane and he has spent the last ten years confined to a psychiatric hospital.
Public defender Deedrea Egar is asking Attias be released to an outpatient treatment center. She says, contrary to that fatal night, his bipolar disorder is now managed, and his mental health is stable.
"He is no longer psychotic," Egar said. "He has received very good, intensive treatment at Patton State Hospital."
Egar said hospital psychiatrists agreed that Attias wouldn't be a danger to himself or others as an outpatient.
The court hearing in Santa Barbara on Tuesday was the first time family members of the victims had seen Attias since the trial.
"To me he looks like the David Attias from ten years ago, a little older, but this is the same person who committed this horrible crime," said Abby Pollak, the mother of one of the victims.
Outside the court, there was no comment from Attias' father, Hollywood director Daniel Attias, who attended the hearing with Attias' mother.
The victims' families contend that releasing Attias poses too much of a risk and say he could easily go off his medications.
"He has a history of violence before he committed the murders, and I think he will do it again," said Tricia Bourdakis, the mother of another victim. "I think the community should be afraid, very afraid, if he's released."
The hearing is expected to last several days before the judge makes a decision.