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Danville man will get treatment, not jail time in 2006 bludgeoning death

Declared psychotic after years of drug use

This week's decision to find a man not guilty by reason of insanity is not one that came easily to those involved in the case.

Andrew Mantas was 16 when he killed his 43-year-old mother, Dimitra Mantas, with a baseball bat at their Danville townhouse in November 2006. Mantas, now 21, first pleaded guilty to the charge, but after a review of findings by doctors, that plea was changed to not guilty by reason of insanity.

California has a history of people trying to avoid prison by taking an insanity plea, but Contra Costa County prosecutor Dan Cabral said the evidence in this case was clear.

"Prior to the murder, there were a lot of incidents that took place that indicated he had some mental issues," Cabral said. "There were incidents of hearing voices and psychotic episodes that were going on."

In fact he said Mantas' mother brought him both to a priest and to the hospital because he began hearing voices after years of drug use.

The day of his arrest, Mantas was found driving a golf cart at a local country club, and he told police "'people were after him,'" Cabral said.

His mother was found beaten to death in a bedroom of their home on Swallow Street in Danville; the bloody aluminum bat was found at the scene. Mantas was charged as an adult with murder and an enhancement accusing him of using a dangerous weapon to bludgeon his mother.

Prosecutors are usually skeptical of cases involving an insanity defense. Cabral said often people come up with the idea after their arrest, explaining, "We have to look at all the circumstances surrounding the matter." But he said every single psychiatrist and psychologist who examined Mantas came to the same conclusion.

"There has been a number of doctors that have treated him -- not one has said he's not psychotic," Cabral said. "We certainly rarely see the actions preceding and subsequent to this incident."

The prosecution also dodged a bullet; Cabral said although Mantas may be psychotic, he had to be declared competent to stand trial -- that is, to understand the charges against him and be able to participate in his own defense. If Mantas had not been competent and were deemed not a danger to himself or others, it's possible that he could have been released in the care of someone in what's known as a conservatorship.

Cabral said an Oct. 6 hearing will determine where Mantas will go for treatment.

"Patricide, matricide, that's where you're going to find sanity is an issue," Cabral said. "When you look at everything, it was a very sad case."

Comments

Posted by William, a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 7:19 am

This story from start to the current situation is a testamony to the failed mental health system in our state and to the lack of awareness of the public to serious mental health concerns. Initially the mother takes a floridly psychotic child to a priest who then tells her to take him to a doctor. She does and takes him to a non medical doctor. This young man never received any competent care until AFTER he had killed his mother. What a shame that we have to wait for a atrocity to occur until any action can be taken.


Posted by Dave, a resident of Alamo
on Sep 14, 2011 at 10:15 am

Yeah, I feel sorry for the kid. He killed his mother, but it was her fault, so let's not hold him responsible. Why not give him an award for removing his dysfunctional mother from society? What a crock!


Posted by samiam, a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

Horrible situation all around.
William, is there any actual, successful treatment for the kind of mental issues Mantas displayed? It feels wrong, somehow, for you to blame the death on the victim when it appears to me that she simply was doing the best she could do for her son.

Should she have abandoned him to the police/state instead?


Posted by Barbara, a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I read frustration in William's post, not blaming the victim. I think the mom did what she thought was appropriate, but she was tragically misguided.

@samiam I don't think she had to go to the extreme of abandoning him to police/state. Taking him to a hospital emergency room would have sufficed. From there he could have been admitted to a psych hospital and treated for his psychosis - and potentially been able to get back on track. If it was his first psychotic break the odds of being able to live full life were probably in his favor. Now, even with treatment that helps relieve his psychoses, he has to live with his actions.




Posted by Alan, a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Emergency room? Are you kidding?


Posted by Barbara, a resident of Danville
on Sep 14, 2011 at 5:36 pm

@Alan, it is clinical protocol and pretty well known by clinicians in the mental health community. It can be dangerous to have people who are actively psychotic wait for an appointment with a psychiatrist, so the staff at emergency rooms are trained to facilitate entry to a psych hospital. An alternative is to call the police who would hopefully facilitate a psych hold (5150) but it is usually less stressful for the individual and family to enter via the ER.


Posted by Ali, a resident of Danville
on Sep 15, 2011 at 7:41 am

It's too bad mom didn't have more information made avalible to her.
Some people just don't know where to go, or even who to talk to about their situation. This would be the right time to be a good friend and not be judgmental.


Posted by Ralph Hoffmann, a resident of Walnut Creek
on Sep 15, 2011 at 8:35 am

What about Andrew's Father?

Does this murder remind anyone of Ernie Scherer, III?


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