YAKIMA - A Yakima judge at a hearing held this past Friday ordered the conditional release of Phillip Paul to be revoked.
Paul killed Ruth Motley in Sunnyside back in the late 1980s. Paul was found not guilty of the crime by reason of insanity and has been committed to Eastern State Hospital at Medical Lake for most of that time since.
Over that time Paul's condition has improved enough that he was granted a conditional release, which allowed him to live on his own. Paul has lived by himself a couple of times but has mainly been kept at the hospital.
Last summer Paul escaped from custody while on a hospital sponsored field trip to the Spokane County Fair. He was caught a few days later near Goldendale, after trying to make it back to Sunnyside.
Because of the escape the state had sought to have his conditional release status revoked and the judge did that last Friday.
Paul's attorney, Dan Fessler, said the latest hospital report issued on Paul determined his mental status was stable and was not exhibiting any psychotic symptoms. In fact the report said, Paul has been showing signs of improvement.
Fessler said last summer's escape was a factor in the judge's decision.
Paul will be able to petition for a new conditional release in six months, and then every six months after that.
In an ironic twist of fate, Fessler said that if Paul had been found guilty of first-degree murder in 1987 the standard sentencing range was 20 to 26 and a half years, with the middle range of that sentence being 23 years.
Paul has been in state custody for more than 22 years, which means he could have been released more than a year ago if he had been sentenced to the lower end. Adding good time, which in 1987 was 33 percent, Paul could have been released nine years ago if he had been found guilty.