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Committee hears Shea bill as result of Phillip Paul escape

Three days after criminally-insane killer Philip Paul, formerly of Sunnyside, walked away from an Eastern State Hospital outing during family day at the Spokane County Fair, he was finally captured some 250 miles away in Goldendale.

Law enforcement officials held their breath during that time, hoping another person would not become a victim of Paul's horrendous crimes.

Tuesday, two Republican lawmakers testified in Olympia in favor of a bill that would prevent such outings from being conducted in the future.

"Philip Paul was committed to Eastern State Hospital after brutally killing a woman. There was quite a bit of concern in our community that he had escaped at the fair and was within feet of our children. It was a very traumatic event for Spokane County," said Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who prime-sponsored House Bill 2717.

"This bill would ban these outings, except in very specific circumstances."

Rep. Norm Johnson, R-Yakima, testified he knew Paul's victim.

"Ruth Motley was a prominent woman in our community. She was known for her kindness and good works in the Yakima Valley. Ruth lived in Sunnyside. She was a retired teacher and founder of Sunnyside's Historical Society. She also served on the board of Yakima Community College in the 1970s. But in 1987, at the age of 78, Philip Paul brutally murdered this lady by slitting her throat, pouring gasoline on her and burying the body in a shallow grave in her garden," he recalled.

He continued, "In 1991, Mr. Paul had escaped custody, but was later captured. He was also allowed to live twice on his own in Spokane before being returned to Eastern State Hospital. Now 22 years after the death of Ruth Motley, this dangerous killer was taken on an outing to a place where families were present with their children. And he simply walked away."

Under the Shea bill, a person committed to a state facility for the purpose of determining competency, restoring competency, or as the result of a finding of "not guilty by reason of insanity," would not be allowed to leave the state institution where he or she has been committed, except under certain circumstances. Those exceptions include when necessary medical or legal proceedings are not available in the facility where the person is confined; visits to the bedside of an immediate family member who is seriously ill; attendance at the funeral of an immediate family member; and court-authorized outings.

Both Shea and Johnson told the House Human Services Committee the bill is needed for the protection of the public.

"This bill is important because it codifies the governor's recommendations, which will give Spokane County and other counties in the state and their residents the reassurance that an event like this will not happen again," said Shea.

"As lawmakers, there is no fundamental duty more important than the protection and safety of the public. Philip Paul is a dangerous, heartless killer who showed no mercy to his victim. This state failed the victim of Philip Paul when the Department of Social and Health Services took him on this outing," said Johnson, a co-sponsor of the bill. "This should have never happened, and we can never let it happen again."

Although the committee took no action Tuesday, the bill's sponsors are hopeful the measure will be considered within the next several days.

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