State: Suspect in MTMHI beating death could have been elsewhere - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

State: Suspect in MTMHI beating death could have been sent elsewhere

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Kevin Beasley (Photo from Metro PD) Kevin Beasley (Photo from Metro PD)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A man accused of killing a fellow psychiatric patient while he was hospitalized for two attempted murders could have been sent to a maximum security psychiatric facility instead of Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute, according to the state department that oversees health care for the mentally ill.

Kevin Beasley is charged with murder, after what police call an unprovoked attack on Aug. 4 on another MTMHI patient, Billy Joe Newman.

Newman was being treated at MTMHI for complications after a stroke, his family's attorney said.

Beasley was being held at MTMHI after a judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity after police said Beasley ran over a man with an ATV and stabbed a grandmother in the neck with a steak knife. Beasley was being held in the general population of MTMHI when he allegedly attacked Newman.

A woman who was once an inpatient at MTMHI said she's not surprised someone was killed by a dangerous accused criminal there; she'd seen it herself.

Debi Gilley openly talks about something many people won't: her bipolar disease.

She said that while at MTMHI several years ago, a fellow patient in the day room told her something that chilled her to the bone.

"He looked me square in the eye and said, 'I murdered my wife. I was transferred here from prison. I stabbed my wife 13 times,'" Gilley said. "I thought I would faint. My ears started ringing. I was feeling like I needed to find a phone to tell someone, 'I'm in the wrong place.'"

Gilley wasn't surprised when she saw Channel 4's story last week about Beasley's alleged attack on an innocent, non-violent patient. She had expected something terrible like this to happen.

"For him to be mixed with violent people, that's the definition of insanity," she said.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services oversees mental health care in the state. Department spokesman Michael A. Rabkin told Channel 4 News that the judge in the Beasley case could have sent Beasley to a maximum security facility, the Forensic Services Program, but did not.

The assistant district attorney who handled Beasley's case, Roger Moore, said in his opinion, the judge signed the correct order. He believes it was up to state mental health officials to decide how best to place Beasley within their system.

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