Inmate calls Colorado Mental Health Institute treatment a Catch-22

9 Jul

In 1989, Gary Hilton feigned mental illness so he could go to the Colorado Mental Health Institute instead of prison.

Today, he’s the one crying foul, claiming the state hospital moved him to a high-security ward for his refusal to disclose past crimes and inappropriately warned his female friend that he is a serial killer.

“It’s mind-boggling for me,” Hilton said. “I can’t get out of here.”

Hilton sought injunctive relief in Denver District Court in late October, claiming that forcing him to divulge crimes violated his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“They are coercing him into confessing to crimes,” Hilton’s attorney, Jay Reinan, said. “They’re setting him up so that when they release him there is someone to arrest him. It violates patient privilege. It violates all sorts of rules.”

The state filed a motion to dismiss the case, claiming state hospital workers have immunity and Denver doesn’t have jurisdiction over his case, which was originally filed in Arapahoe County.

The state’s motion to dismiss asserts that there is an exception to the Fifth Amendment for patients in a mental institute. The state also has a right to move mental patients who fail to comply with treatment.

Hilton has been in the custody of the state since the 1980s, but he has escaped and has been moved to various wards with varied security levels at different times over the years. At one point, he was living off-grounds until he was arrested for investigation of a murder. Although he was cleared in that case, he was arrested in a jail assault.

History of violence

Hilton said he feels like he is caught in a Catch-22. He’s being held in a high-security ward at the hospital for his refusal to participate in his treatment by refusing to disclose his criminal history.

But if he does divulge past crimes, his psychiatrist will use his statements to prove he’s too dangerous for release, Hilton said. It could also lead to new criminal charges against him.

Hilton has a long history of documented violence.

He was committed to the institute in 1989 after he was found not guilty by reason of impaired mental condition for crimes that included robbery and kidnapping during a series of robberies in Aurora in 1987.

In Washington, he was convicted of manslaughter when he was a teenager, and while he was serving a prison term he fatally stabbed two inmates who assaulted him.

But he hasn’t been accused of violence since 2006 when he got in a fight in a Pueblo jail, he said.

Although he was originally diagnosed with a major mental illness, his psychiatrists later said he had faked symptoms and he only was afflicted with antisocial disorder, a condition common among most prison inmates.

“I do the treatment,” he said. “But basically I’m doing time.”

“Don’t have statutes of limitations”

As part of the treatment and in contrition for things he did after a troubled childhood, during which he was nearly beaten to death when he was 12, he told a hospital social worker about serious crimes he committed decades earlier, he said.

He had been an enforcer in a criminal organization, he said. He was in a militia and a drug cartel.

“It was urban warfare. I have remorse. I needed to work through events that happened in my life,” Hilton said. “I didn’t sleep for four days. I was crying. I was making changes in my life.”

A couple of the crimes he disclosed to the social worker “don’t have statutes of limitations,” he said. “I can’t really say those things.”

But later, his psychiatrists demanded that he write down what he had done as part of his treatment, with the understanding that he wouldn’t have to reveal names, dates and locations.

He refused because authorities know his background and might be able to use his psychiatric reports to solve old crimes.

“I don’t trust them,” he said. “I work hard and I can’t get nowhere, even when I’m honest.”

Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206 or twitter.com/kmitchellDP or blogs.denverpost.com/coldcases

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