Release Of Accused Murderer From State Hospital Raises Concerns, Questions

Release Of Accused Murderer From State Hospital Raises Concerns, Questions

By Daniel Stefanski |

Two Arizona Republican Senators are calling for the state’s governor and attorney general to take action after a patient was recently released from the Arizona State Hospital (ASH).

Late last week, Senators Anthony Kern and T.J. Shope demanded that Attorney General Kris Mayes and Governor Katie Hobbs “protect the citizens of Arizona by immediately rescinding the release of a seriously mentally-ill patient who was housed at the ASH after being found incompetent to stand trial in the brutal murder of his own mother and seven-year-old niece.”

The legislators’ focus originated from a report from an ABC 15 journalist, Nicole Grigg, who broke the news on July 20.

Grigg tweeted that “the public is not informed where he (Rodney Aviles) was released to or what part of the city,” and that behavioral facilities had repeatedly “denied to accept him.” She reported that the family of his alleged victims “told ABC15 in 1999 that the murders happened just hours after he was released then from a psychiatric facility.”

The Senate Republicans’ release revealed that in February, “Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell sent a letter to Mayes saying she has serious community safety concerns and believes Aviles poses an ongoing threat to his family and the community at large. The report went on to mention a 2021 court filing objecting to Aviles’ release, citing a doctor’s statements that Aviles had no insight into the fact of his mental illness, Aviles has insisted he does not need medication, but that Aviles is expected to need inpatient care for the duration of his life.”

Kern released a statement about the news, saying, “We have a Governor issuing numerous unconstitutional executive orders left and right, allowing taxpayer-funded sex-change surgeries, stripping county attorneys of their prosecutorial powers, protecting a Death Row inmate from execution, acting as a travel agency in transporting illegal immigrants to their preferred destinations, and even focusing on hairstyles of state employees. Now, we have an individual who is clearly an imminent danger to society and being immersed back into the community because of the incompetence of the Hobbs’ Administration. Unfortunately, she and Mayes are nowhere to be found when public safety is at risk. When Mayes should be defending our laws and prosecuting the most vile criminals, she’s instead advocating for lawlessness. The citizens of this great state and the victims who have been through unthinkable suffering deserve immediate action from these so-called ‘elected officials.’ Their priorities are completely tone-deaf and out of touch with the needs of our state. Any fallout or further victimization from the release of Aviles will strictly be the result of inaction from Hobbs and Mayes.”

Senator Shope added, “If this man is unfit for trial after murdering his family, he’s unfit to be on the streets with the general public and must stay under proper care and supervision. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Health & Human Services, I’ll be working with my colleagues to bring truly independent oversight of the Arizona State Hospital. This is clearly necessary to keep patients and citizens safe from the winds of politics.”

After the Senators issued their press release, Grigg reported that Governor Hobbs’ Office informed her that the governor “is fully committed to keeping Arizonans safe and is finding solutions to improve ASH operations and ensuring public safety. Additionally, she recognizes ASH’s legal obligations and expects the State Hospital to follow any applicable laws or court orders.”

Attorney General Mayes’ Office also told Grigg, “the Superior Court mandated the release of this individual. But given that our office serves as legal counsel for ADHS and ASH, we have no additional comments to make.”

Grigg wrote that she “tried to get the court records of his release but the filing is confidential.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.