Mansfield man remains in mental health facility after insanity defense

Mansfield man found not guilty by reason of insanity in 2007 shooting

Larry Evans Jr. will remain confined to a state mental health facility with no additional privileges.

Judge Phil Naumoff released the decision Thursday in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas after reviewing a report from a psychiatrist at Heartland Behavioral Healthcare in Massillon.

Evans, 54, was found not guilty by reason of insanity on 19 counts, including two charges of aggravated murder, in connection with the December 26, 2007 shooting death of Robert Houseman, his neighbor; and his brother, Brian Evans, a policeman from Mansfield.

New: State facilities ask Evans to grant more privileges

Its commitment is reviewed every two years.

More than 20 friends and family members supporting the two shooting victims were at the scene Thursday, along with several city police officers. Evans was a beloved member of the MPD. His nickname was Baby Boy.

Evans may leave Heartland Behavioral Healthcare grounds if accompanied

After the last hearing in January 2020, Evans moved from Tier III to Tier IV privileges. Level IV movement allows a patient to leave the hospital grounds with passes when accompanied by the patient’s staff or community service provider.

The patient remains under the direct supervision of staff at all times outside the hospital grounds. Among the goals are to improve Evans’ awareness of community resources, to connect with those in community service organizations to support his ongoing treatment, and to display appropriate behavior in community settings.

New: Evans granted more freedom in a state mental institution

Activities include having a meal, shopping or attending a community event with hospital staff. The activities are meant to have direct therapeutic value or serve as a reward in Evans’ recovery.

Defense attorney Bernie Davis said the goal was for Evans to be released at some point.

Lawyers stipulate the appointment of a psychiatrist

Davis and Assistant District Attorney Teri Burnside stipulated the psychiatrist’s recommendation, making the hearing a formality.

“We’re satisfied,” Burnside said. “He’s not going out and he’s not going anywhere.”

There was no testimony, but Naumoff allowed people to address the court.

Dressed in a blue polo shirt, Evans appeared via video from Massillon. He briefly spoke to the judge.

“I’m just doing the best I can,” he said.

Garnet Shears, Trina Evans’ mother and Larry’s stepmother, initially seemed like the only one who wanted to talk.

“My heart is very full because I have compassion for the situation and for Larry Evans,” Shears said. “I believe that’s what God would have me do.”

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While showing grace, Shears also criticized the direction of these mandatory hearings.

“The ball was dropped at times,” she said.

Shears said the focus should be on Trina Evans, Brian’s widow, and Kim Adkins, Larry’s sister.

They were also shot that winter night, when family members went to see Larry, who had left behind a movie the group had planned to see.

Shears said one of the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification officers couldn’t believe they weren’t killed either.

“Bullet holes riddled this car,” Shears said. “I thank God every day that they are surviving and doing as well as they can.”

Surviving victim’s mother speaks to Evans: ‘They must be safe’

Shears, who is a minister, then addressed Evans directly.

“Your sanity, Larry, is between you and God,” she said. “I pray that you and your family are well.”

At the same time, Shears said she believes survivors should take priority over Evans.

“He has to be where he is. He doesn’t have to be in public,” she said. “They (Trina Evans and Adkins) need to be safe. We need the help of the justice system to make them feel safe.”

A look back: Victim testifies as Larry Evans seeks transfer to less restrictive mental health facility

Naumoff replied to Shears.

“I take your statements to heart, but we have laws that we must follow,” the judge said. “It is mandatory that they try to restore Mr. Evans to his skills.”

While Evans is in Level IV, Naumoff pointed out that if Evans completes Level V, he will be released.

“Don’t think I don’t sympathize with the family, on both sides,” Naumoff said.

After the judge talked about Tier V, Adkins and Trina Evans decided to address the court.

Evans’ sister calls him a ‘cold-blooded murderer’

“What Larry did to me and Trina will never go away,” Adkins said. “He’s a cold-blooded murderer.

“He was born bad. He will always be bad.”

Adkins said she still had a bullet in her back.

“I can’t have peace knowing he’s about to be knocked out,” Adkins said.

She then spoke directly to her brother.

“If it was up to me, you’d die in there,” Adkins said. “You don’t deserve to see the light of day.”

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Trina Evans, wearing a shirt bearing the likeness of her husband, was the last to speak.

“It’s been a shitty show from the start,” Trina said. “Brian served the city for almost 15 years, and this (the court process) was kind of a joke, an embarrassment.

“If he (Larry) thought he had done something wrong, he would take responsibility for it.”

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Twitter: @MNJCaudill

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