Man in standoff ruled insane
A Marietta man accused of attempted murder of a city police officer was found not guilty by reason of insanity Monday and sentenced to a maximum 11 years in a psychiatric hospital.
William B. Ransom, 53, of 140 E. Spring St., was deemed insane and sentenced during a brief bench trial Monday before Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.
“He’s a mentally ill individual subject to involuntary hospitalization,” Lane said of Ransom.
Ransom appeared in court Monday but did not speak throughout the proceedings.
Lane made the findings based on a report detailing Ransom’s mental instabilities and police reports about the Dec. 12 incident at Ransom’s home where officers had responded to a report from Ransom’s wife that the man was suicidal.
Ransom pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in February and was evaluated by Dr. Denise Kohler, a forensic psychologist with the Forensic Diagnostic Center District 9. In her report, Kohler cites a history of mental instability and substance abuse leading up to the night when Ransom initiated his standoff with officers.
“Mr. Ransom…has been hospitalized for depression and suicidal thoughts. He has had treatment for alcohol and substance abuse. His wife knew that he was not right and had been paranoid walking around the home with guns,” Lane said, summing up Kohler’s report.
According to Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings, Ransom’s wife failed to tell first responders when first contacting them that Ransom had already discharged the gun in the home that day.
“He had been shooting in the house all day,” said Rings.
According to Kohler’s report, Ransom acted as though he was trying to hide from some unknown attacker prior to the standoff. He had ordered his wife to stay quiet and keep the lights off.
“He was boarding up the place and talking about being attacked by someone,” said Lane.
When officers arrived, Ransom holed himself up on the second story of his home and began a standoff that continued throughout the night with Ransom firing periodic shots out the window to where officers were surrounding the home.
“It would appear to this court…the evidence demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Ransom engaged in conduct that if successful would have constituted the murder of …a Marietta City Police officer,” said Lane.
Dozens of officers from multiple agencies responded, including the Marietta City Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office and its Special Response Team and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.
For the purpose of indicting Ransom on the attempted murder charge, the indictment focused on a single officer-MPD Patrolman Errol Kramer, who was one of the first officers dispatched.
In his police report, Kramer reported some of the earliest shots came from a window, causing glass to break and fall around him, read Lane.
The standoff ended several hours later when tear gas was fired into Ransom’s home and he surrendered.
Ransom’s behavior that day and his prior history of mental instability led Kohler to conclude that Ransom did not understand the wrongfulness of his actions that day.
The prosecution didn’t contest Kohler’s report.
“I don’t think anyone who was there on scene would disagree with the fact that he was not in his right mind,” said Rings.
After making the not guilty by reason of insanity finding, Lane ordered Ransom be committed to Appalachian Behavioral Healthcare in Athens for a maximum 11 years-the same maximum prison sentence Ransom faced if found guilty of the first-degree felony charge.
However, Ransom could be released earlier if doctors, with Lane’s approval, decide he is fit for release.
Ransom’s attorney, Shawna Landaker, also asked Lane to approve the release of some of Ransom’s confiscated guns to a relative. Lane agreed to do so if the relative passes a background check and assumes ownership of the guns.