Keating calls for investigation of hospital shooting

Tuesday, October 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Frank Keating wants mental health officials to investigate the shooting death of a nurse by a mentally ill man at a Vinita hospital.

The request was made in a letter Keating wrote to Dr. Terry Cline, state commissioner of mental health, that the governor's office released to The Daily Oklahoman on Monday. Questions have been raised since the Oct. 6 shooting, the governor said.

``As you are undoubtedly aware, the town of Vinita has experienced a tragic loss recently with the senseless murder of one of its finest citizens, Mrs. DeAnna Dorsey, a nurse at Craig General Hospital,'' Keating wrote in the letter.

``As you can imagine, this event has shocked the community and has many residents searching for answers.''

Ricky Martin, a paranoid schizophrenic, burst into the emergency room at Craig General Hospital and shot six rounds into Dorsey, of Welch. Vinita police killed Martin in the hospital parking lot minutes later.

Keating acknowledged that the killing was a criminal matter.

``Yet, I am particularly interested in any insight that you may be able to offer,'' he said.

Some have questioned the kind of treatment Martin was receiving.

The last word his family had was that Martin was living temporarily at the YMCA in Tulsa and was getting help from a case worker at Parkside Hospital, also in Tulsa, said Van Martin, Martin's brother. Van Martin, of Mustang, also said a nurse was giving his brother shots for his medication.

In July, contract negotiations between the state and Parkside broke down. Mental Health Department officials said the hospital was demanding too much money for services. The state is in the process of trying to duplicate those services with three other Tulsa agencies.

According to a Tulsa mental health advocates association, Martin left Tulsa about a week before the Oct. 6 incident. When he arrived in Vinita, he told friends he was not taking his medication because he did not need it.

Cline and the Mental Health Department will not discuss Martin's case publicly because of legal privacy rights of the mentally ill.

Barbara Hodges, the Vinita hospital administrator, said she wonders whether Martin fell through the cracks of the mental health system and whether anyone was keeping track of his medication.

In a letter to the governor, Hodges said Martin had been suicidal and homicidal in the past. Keating asked if that was so, why Martin wasn't in prison.

Martin had no arrest record and wasn't in a court-ordered treatment program at the time of the shooting.

State Rep. Joe Eddins, D-Vinita, said that with the downsizing of Eastern State and more emphasis on community-based treatment, the mentally ill are ending up in prisons.

When Eastern State Hospital closed a year ago, Martin had nowhere to go, residents said. He checked himself into Eastern State when he was got sick, said his family and Vinita Police Chief George Hicks.

Vinita officials and townspeople who saw Martin frequently over the past 22 years also said he did not have problems as long as he was on medication.

Rosemary Brown, a spokeswoman for the Mental Health Department, said a review of the case is under way, and she expects it will be conducted in a ``timely way.''

But she said results of the inquiry will be turned over to the governor, and not released to the public.