Aspen man’s mental health again a concern for Pitkin County judge
A local man with a history of mental health issues, disdain for authority and a propensity to enter other people’s homes is again posing vexing questions for Pitkin County District Court officials.
William Hallisey, 62, was recently found incompetent to stand trial for the fourth time in less than three years, prompting District Judge Chris Seldin on Friday to order officials at the state psychiatric hospital to come up with a plan to allow him to remain competent once he’s released and returns back to Pitkin County for legal proceedings.
Hallisey was sent to the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo three times between October 2015 and November 2017 after breaking into one home in Old Snowmass and attempting to break into another. Each time he was restored to competency through the use of forced medication.
However, each time he returned to the Pitkin County Jail, he was no longer forced to take the medication and he reverted again to incompetency.
“He’s been Ping-Ponged back and forth between (the state psychiatric hospital) and the Pitkin County Jail (in the past),” Seldin said Friday. “This has resulted in the past of this cycle in which Mr. Hallisey is indefinitely held in custody without an enduring ability to maintain competence.”
Seldin released Hallisey from the jail in November, saying he’d already served a jail sentence equal to the crimes he was charged with, though he was concerned he’d see Hallisey again.
His concerns proved prescient.
Hallisey, who lives at Aspen Village, was arrested in June after he allegedly broke into a neighbor’s home twice and stole items. When the neighbor confronted him, Hallisey allegedly swung his fists at the man, then grabbed him by the throat and began choking him.
He was charged with burglary, assault and theft in that case and has been held in custody since then.
On Friday, Seldin said Hallisey must again be transferred to the Pueblo hospital and restored to competency so his criminal case can proceed. But provided he can be made competent again, CMHIP officials must accompany his discharge back to Pitkin County with a plan to ensure his continuing competency, Seldin said.
“His competency needs to be maintained,” the judge said. “(The previous situation) works to no one’s advantage.”
As is his practice, Hallisey refused to attend court Friday and has refused to attend court since he was arrested again in June. He repeatedly refused to attend court during his previous stint in the jail as well.
In other court news
A 50-year-old man who is already serving a two-year prison sentence pleaded guilty Friday to felony burglary and faces four more years behind bars.
Thomas Abbott was allegedly caught squatting in a rental home in the 200 block of West Hopkins Avenue twice in February 2017 by a property manager. He also was found to have stolen a backpack from City Market in Aspen.
Abbot admitted in court Friday that he entered the home with the intent to commit theft.
The District Attorney’s Office agreed to limit Abbott’s prison time to the minimum of four years when he is sentenced later this year.
Abbott pleaded guilty in 2017 to first-degree trespassing of an automobile and identity theft in Garfield District Court and was sentenced to two years in prison.
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Ballots will be counted Tuesday evening for the city of Aspen municipal election.