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."