Man Convicted of Murdering Arizona Police Officer Ordered Freed; Judge Rules Evidence of Mental Illness was not Properly Presented

U.S. District Court Judge Jay R. Irwin ruled that Eric Clark might have been acquitted of murdering Flagstaff police officer Jeffrey Moritz if observations about Clark's untreated mental illness before the shooting had been presented, the Treatment Advocacy Center announced.

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Eric Clark’s case tragically illustrates the enormous costs of not intervening when individuals with severe mental illness are too ill to seek their own care.

Arlington, VA. (PRWEB) December 22, 2011

Eric Clark, imprisoned since his 2003 murder conviction for killing a Flagstaff police officer, has been ordered released from prison or retried by the state of Arizona, the Treatment Advocacy Center announced.

U.S. District Court Judge Jay R. Irwin ruled that former defense attorneys for Clark, now 29, incorrectly failed to present “observation evidence” about Clark that might have resulted in his acquittal. The observations described him as being influenced by paranoid delusions that Phoenix was under assault by space aliens when he shot and killed Flagstaff police officer Jeffrey Moritz in June 2000.

Irwin said that Clark’s shooting of Moritz was “not inconsistent with paranoid delusions.”

“A malevolent alien in a police uniform, driving a squad car with lights and sirens, is still a malevolent alien,” the judge wrote in the 115-page ruling.* “(Clark’s) delusions did not sway toward little green men, but instead saw aliens in seemingly ordinary people such as his parents.”

Moritz’ death followed years of repeated and futile efforts by Clark’s family to get psychiatric treatment for him, according to Irwin's opinion. After Clark was arrested for a DUI and possession of drugs, “(Clark’s parents) begged the juvenile people to keep him because of his mental health issues, but they released him.” They also hired an attorney to try to get authorities to press charges and keep him detained for treatment, the judge wrote.

“Eric Clark’s case tragically illustrates the enormous costs of not intervening when individuals with severe mental illness are too ill to seek their own care,” said James Pavle, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit that advocates for mental illness treatment law reform.

“Opponents of court-ordered treatment for mental illness object that it deprives recipients of their freedom and that it deprives government agencies of precious resources better spent on other mental health issues. Clark’s non-treatment led to his complete loss of freedom as a prisoner. And Officer Moritz died. As a result of non-treatment, the state of Arizona has spent money on his trial, appeals and incarceration that could probably have provided innumerable similarly ill people with effective community services.”

Clark’s conviction was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on different issues in the 2000s. The Treatment Advocacy Center filed an amicus brief with the court in that case.

  • Arizona District Court CV-09-8006-PCT-JAT (JRI), Clark v. Ryan et.al.

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Contact

  • Carla Ryan, attorney for Eric Clark

    520-297-1113
    Email
  • Teresa Clark, mother of Eric Clark

    520.247.2329
    Email