DA Renews Call For Law Change After Suspect Left Unattended


Saturday, April 28th 2007, 2:11 pm
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The Oklahoma County District Attorney renewed his call for state legislators to revisit a law that may force authorities to put a man accused of a quadruple homicide in a nursing home.

Earl Bradford Postelle will stay in jail for now, but a compromise discussed during a court hearing on Friday would allow him to return to Oak Hills Living Center in Jones, a community northeast of Oklahoma City.

Postelle, 43, was moved to the nursing home after being declared incompetent to stand trial on first-degree murder charges in the May 30, 2005, deaths of James Swindle, Amy Wright, Terry Smith and James Alderson. All four were shot multiple times outside a mobile home in southeast Oklahoma City.

Postelle sustained brain damage in a motorcycle accident a few years back. Since he's not mentally ill or mentally retarded, neither the Department of Human Services nor the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services are responsible for him.

Complaints by a nursing home advocate and relatives of one of the shooting victims intensified after Postelle was left alone Thursday at an Oklahoma City hospital after being taken there for treatement of a seizure. He subsequently was returned to jail.

District Attorney David Prater said people like Postelle should not end up in nursing homes.

``These are clearly inappropriate places for people who have been deemed to be dangers to the community,'' Prater said. ``There's a larger picture out there that I believe the Legislature needs to address immediately.''

DHS attorney John Fears said the judge will have more options if he modifies his earlier finding that Postelle is a threat to others.

If Postelle _ who has been described as a paraplegic with the mind of a 7-year-old _ were deemed to be not dangerous, DHS would have to come up with a plan for his care, Fears said.

That plan would include detailed conditions to ensure Postelle is supervised 24 hours a day.

``That is as reasonable an option as the Legislature has left to the court,'' Fears said.

An attorney for Oak Hills said the nursing home was selected to house Postelle because it has a secure unit for patients that require extra supervision.

``It is more than just a regular nursing home,'' attorney Kyle Goodwin said. ``I believe it's the only one in the county.''

Postelle ended up back in jail Thursday after authorities found him unattended at OU Medical Center, which violates the court order that put Postelle in the nursing home, Oklahoma County District Judge Ray C. Elliott said.

Goodwin said no one at the nursing home knew about the order, but the administrator who called an ambulance for Postelle notified authorities he was there because of a court order.