MEDFORD, Ore. — A Medford man standing trial for a stand-off with police in March of last year has been found "guilty except for insanity," according to a statement from the Jackson County District Attorney's Office released on Tuesday.
41-year-old William Shelton, Jr. faced three counts of Attempted Assault in the First Degree and a single count of Unlawful Use of a Weapon in Jackson County District Court.
Shelton fired multiple shots in the direction of officers during a stand-off at his duplex on March 29, 2018. Finally, an officer shot Shelton in the chest, eventually leading to the man's surrender.
According to the DA's Office, the court held a "stipulated facts trial" on Tuesday before Judge Lisa Grief. Both the state and the defense presented psychological evaluations of Shelton — evaluations which found that Shelton suffered from Bipolar II disorder and was in a "severe manic episode" at the time of the incident.
"The forensic evaluations determined that as a result of his mania at the time of the incident, Mr. Shelton lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct and/or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law," the DA's Office said.
Judge Grief ordered Shelton to the jurisdiction of the Psychiatric Security Review Board for care, custody and treatment for ten years — and for the time being, committed to a state mental hospital due to being a "substantial danger to others at this time, and . . . not currently a proper subject for conditional release."
According to witnesses at the scene on March 29 of last year, Shelton had threatened a passerby with a gun before firing shots apparently at random. Then, when officers arrived, Shelton barricaded himself in his home, telling them that "he would protect his children and wife" and "complete the mission given to him by God," the DA's Office said.
When Shelton began firing in the direction of officers, prosecutors said that one returned fire and hit Shelton in the chest. Shelton surrendered sometime later.
After he was found "guilty except for insanity" Tuesday, the judge allowed Shelton to hug his wife. NewsWatch 12 spoke with her afterward. She said she was happy with the outcome of his case but added this was an unfortunate way to learn he needed help but is glad he is going to get it.
The Crisis and Outpatient Services Manager for Jackson County Mental Health Rick Rawlins said there are resources in our area where you can help a loved one before they go through a mental health crisis, including Jackson County Mental Health's 24-hour crisis line. He said the crisis center gets between 20-30 calls and walk-ins daily.
"It's a common thing in the community and nationwide. There are challenging situations occuring in people's lives and there is support," said Rawlins. "There is help. That's where we're available to help people."
The Medford Police Department said officers respond to calls of people in crisis about 500 times a year, which amounts to more than once a day. Lt. Mike Budreau said that began to increase around eight years ago. As a result, officers go through a lot of training.
"When somebody is in a crisis, the number one thing is to recognize what is going on and that's what we try to do as police officers, recognize that that person is having a mental health issue," Lt. Budreau said.
He added officers rely on witnesses and family members to also let them know what is happening to that person. Officers recommend that family and friends try to get that person help before it reaches a situation where police need to get involved. Rawlins agreed.
"If you have a friend that you are concerned about that is having some sort of mental health crisis, first talk with them to see if you can give some sort of support. If it gets beyond what you can do, then you can call Jackson County Mental Health and talk with our crisis line and we can assist. If there is ever a point where you feel like you are in danger that may be the time to call police," Rawlins said.
If it goes beyond that point where they are not willing to get help and they are a danger to themselves or others, then an involuntary process can be started. However, Rawlins said, that threshold is hard to reach in Oregon.
Rawlins said Jackson County Mental Health is a great place to start to help a loved one.
It's located inside the Jackson County Health and Human Services building in Medford. You can walk in any time Monday-Friday from 8am-5pm. You can be helped immediately regardless of your insurance. Experts can also help find the service in the area that is best for your situation. It also has a 24-hour crisis line at (541) 774-8201.