A Western State Hospital patient suspected of fatally strangling his roommate was charged Wednesday with murder, Pierce County prosecutors said.
Jason Day, 51, is accused of killing his roommate at the Adult Psychiatric Hospital, one of two such public facilities in Washington. He will undergo a competency assessment to determine if he is fit to stand trial.
No issues were documented between Day and his roommate during the three months they lived together in Building 21, where bedrooms and recreation areas remain unlocked, according to court documents, which do not identify the man. 69 year old who was killed.
Day’s most recent psychiatric evaluation, however, noted that he had assaulted other patients due to his heightened feelings of paranoia and inability to control his anger. He told a hospital staff member that he assaulted his roommate because the man threatened him, documents show.
A nurse on the ward told Lakewood police that Day approached her on Oct. 28 and told her her roommate was dead, according to court documents. She and a security staff member found the roommate seriously injured and he later died in a hospital.
The man who was killed had lived in Western State since 1989, arriving on charges of first-degree murder, according to a spokesperson for the Washington Department of Health and Human Services.
Day was admitted to Western State in 2014 after assaulting another patient at another mental institution, court documents show.
Both men were found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Day is being held without bail at Pierce County Jail and awaits his competency assessment.
The Western State has more than 800 beds for patients involuntarily confined with psychiatric disorders and defendants whose jurisdiction is in question.
The hospital lost $53 million in federal funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services after years of failing inspections, prompting state leaders to take action.
Gov. Jay Inslee’s plan to “reimagine” the state’s mental health system includes dividing the western state into two sections and reducing the number of civilian beds.
But competing interests and rising costs magnify the difficulties of this plan. Lakewood officials pushed back against the state, saying their town was chosen for the behavioral health facility sites without their input.
Information from the Seattle Times archives is included in this report.