SMITHFIELD — A Clayton man who was judged to be insane after killing his 4-year-old daughter in 2007 will get to spend a little more time off campus while he’s being treated at a state psychiatric hospital.
John Violette has been committed to a state hospital since 2008, when a judge ruled he was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing death of his daughter Katlin.
Last week, Superior Court Judge Thomas H. Lock granted Violette the right to longer off-campus field trips. Violette will now be able to spend up to five hours off the hospital campus under staff supervision, up from three hours in the past.
Violette’s doctors asked for additional privileges at a yearly assessment hearing required for patients who’ve been committed to institutions.
Lock denied a couple of other doctors’ recommendations that would have allowed Violette to go on trips in larger groups and to have more unsupervised time on campus. He’s currently allowed 30 minutes of unsupervised time; doctors recommended three hours.
James Carter, Violette’s attorney, said doctors use privileges as incentives for completing treatment.
“Even though it takes the judge to authorize additional privileges, they’d have to be given to him by the treatment team…and the treatment team could take them away,” Carter said. He called the privileges “tools” that could help aid Violette’s recovery.
Violette was accused of stabbing his daughter to death with a kitchen knife, then cutting off her head and stuffing her body in a trash can in January 2007. Violette told forensic psychiatrists he heard the voice of God tell him Katlin was possessed by an evil spirit. Doctors diagnosed Violette with paranoid schizophrenia.
Violette was sent to Dorothea Dix Hospital initially, and now lives at Central Regional Hospital in Butner.
Carter, who has been Violette’s attorney since 2009, said his client has steadily recovered since then. Carter said he thinks Violette will be released someday, though he said he doesn’t know when.
He said it’s in everyone’s best interest for Violette to get adequate treatment.
“That’s a tough thing to live with,” Carter said. “If there’s a way that we can test and probe and make sure the person is better before we release them, that would be better for society.”
District Attorney Susan Doyle declined to comment. Clayton Police Chief Glenn Allen, who sent a representative to last week’s hearing, said he thinks it will be a long time before anyone should consider releasing Violette.
“I understand the judge’s logic in giving him additional hours,” Allen said. “But I’m glad that no additional freedoms were given to him.”