Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

State v. Lawrence

Intermediate Court of Appeals of Hawaii

November 30, 2016

STATE OF HAWAI'I, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MICHAEL ROBERT LAWRENCE, Defendant-Appellant and DIRECTOR OF HEALTH, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, STATE OF HAWAI'I, Party-in-Interest-Appellee.

         APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE FIRST CIRCUIT (CR. NO. 99-0-0675)

          Taryn R. Tomasa Deputy Public Defender for Defendant-Appellant

          Kimberly Tsumoto Guidry First Deputy Solicity General Department of the Attorney General for Party-in-Interest-Appellee

          NAKAMURA, C.J., and FOLEY and LEONARD, JJ.

          OPINION

          NAKAMURA, C.J.

         Plaintiff-Appellee State of Hawai'i (State) charged Defendant-Appellant Michael Robert Lawrence (Lawrence) with the second-degree murder of Melchor Talaro Tabag (Tabag). Lawrence killed Tabag, a vacuum cleaner salesperson who had been demonstrating products at Lawrence's home, by striking Tabag in the head with a hammer and stabbing him in the neck and chest.

         Lawrence subsequently dismembered Tabag's body. In 2002, after a jury-waived bench trial, the Circuit Court of the First Circuit (Circuit Court)[1] found Lawrence not guilty of second-degree murder by reason of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect. Based on testimony that Lawrence presented a risk of danger to others, the Circuit Court ordered him committed to the custody of the Director of the Department of Health (Director) to be placed in an appropriate institution for custody, care, and treatment. The Circuit Court entered its "Judgment of Acqutial and Commitment" which reflected these rulings on April 3, 2002.

         On December 18, 2013, the Director filed a motion for an order authorizing the involuntary administration of psychotropic medication to Lawrence. The motion was based on a request by Thomas L. Cook, M.D. (Dr. Cook), Lawrence's treating psychiatrist at the Hawai'i State Hospital. After an evidentiary hearing, the Circuit Court[2] granted the motion and filed its "Order Granting [Director's] Motion for an Order Authorizing the Involuntary Administration of Medication" (Medication Order) on December 26, 2013.

         Lawrence appeals from the Medication Order. On appeal, Lawrence contends that the Circuit Court erred in issuing the Medication Order because there was insufficient evidence to support it. We disagree and affirm the Circuit Court.

         BACKGROUND

         I.

         In the morning of March 27, 1999, Tabag, a vacuum cleaner salesperson, demonstrated his products to Lawrence at a home that Lawrence shared with his parents. Lawrence's mother later saw Tabag's body lying on the floor with a stream of blood on his left forehead. Lawrence was there and was holding a hammer in his right hand. Lawrence's mother became scared and locked herself in her bedroom. Lawrence left the residence with Tabag's body and drove away in Tabag's car.

         The police later arrested Lawrence after seeing him drive into a gas station in Tabag's car. From the car, the police recovered a dagger type knife, bone saw, and claw hammer which appeared to have blood on them. The bone saw also appeared to have flesh and hair on it. Lawrence later admitted that he had "chopped up" Tabag's body and stated that he felt "high" when he killed Tabag.

         The State filed a criminal Complaint against Lawrence, charging him with the second-degree murder of Tabag. After a jury-waived bench trial, the Circuit Court found that the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Lawrence "struck Melchor Tabag on the head with a hammer, stabbed him in the neck and chest, and caused the death of Melchor Tabag"; that Lawrence engaged in this conduct intentionally or knowingly; and that Lawrence intended or knew that his conduct would result in Tabag's death.

         The Circuit Court, however, further found that Lawrence was not guilty of the charged second-degree murder by reason of physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect. The Circuit Court ruled that Lawrence had proven by a preponderance of the evidence the affirmative defense that (1) at the time of the charged offense, he was suffering from a physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect; and (2) as the result of such physical or mental disease, disorder, or defect, he lacked substantial capacity either to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law (hereinafter, the "insanity defense"). In support of its insanity defense ruling, the Circuit Court cited the opinions of mental health experts who treated or examined Lawrence that Lawrence suffered from schizophrenia and that he believed killing Tabag was part of his "mission." To support its finding that Lawrence suffered from schizophrenia and was not malingering, the Circuit Court cited evidence that while in custody after his arrest, Lawrence's symptoms improved after the administration of anti-psychotic medication, but that six weeks after the medication was stopped, Lawrence showed psychotic symptoms which included "uncontrollable thoughts to chop up people[, ]" and that Lawrence's symptoms again improved when the medication was resumed. The Circuit Court found that Lawrence had proven by a preponderance of the evidence that

at the time of the alleged offense, the Defendant was acting pursuant to a delusion as to his mission and that he lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct and that he lacked substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, due to a physical or mental disease, disorder or defect.

         Accordingly, the Circuit Court adjudged Lawrence not guilty based on his insanity defense. In addition, based on the testimony that Lawrence presented a risk of danger to others, the Circuit Court ordered that Lawrence be "committed to the custody of the Director . . . to be placed in an appropriate institution for custody, care and treatment." On April 3, 2002, the Circuit Court entered its Judgment of Acquittal and Commitment, which acquitted Lawrence based on his insanity defense and ordered him committed to the custody of the Director, pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) § 704-411(1)(a) (1993).[3]

          II.

         From the time that the Circuit Court entered its Judgment of Acquittal and Commitment in 2002, Lawrence has remained in custody, either at the Hawai'i State Hospital (HSH) or at the Halawa Correction Facility (Halawa). Lawrence was apparently prosecuted for assaulting an HSH physician in 2008, and he was incarcerated at Halawa until November 2013. Lawrence has a history of violent behavior while in custody, and the Circuit Court has issued a series of orders authorizing his involuntary medication.

         A.

         On December 12, 2007, while Lawrence was committed at HSH, the Director filed the first motion for an order authorizing the involuntary administration of medication to Lawrence. The motion asserted that Lawrence's inconsistency in taking, and his refusal to take, medication had resulted in "aggressive, assaultive and dangerous behaviors which renders him an imminent danger to other patients and staff at HSH." The Director's proposed treatment plan described numerous incidents of Lawrence's violent behavior as well as his delusional thoughts, including Lawrence's attacking multiple patients without provocation, making threats against patients and staff, and maintaining a belief that his "work" included the killing of others. The most recent incident described in the proposed treatment plan occurred on December 1, 2007. During that incident, Lawrence made threatening comments to HSH staff, and when staff members approached him to offer emergency medications, Lawrence refused to take the medications, and an altercation ensued. Lawrence hit several staff members, and as a result of the altercation, four staff members suffered injuries, including broken ribs, dental damage, facial bruising and neck strain, and a dislocated shoulder.[4]

         The Circuit Court issued an order granting the State's motion on December 19, 2007, finding, among other things, that Lawrence was "dangerous to others in that he has threatened and assaulted staff members and other patients[.]" The Circuit Court's 2007 order authorized the involuntary administration of medication to Lawrence until December 19, 2008. Lawrence did not appeal the 2007 order.

         B.

         On December 11, 2008, the Director filed a second motion for an order authorizing the involuntary administration of medication to Lawrence based on his "continued violent and assaultive behaviors towards others." In support of the motion, the Director asserted that Lawrence continued to refuse medications and detailed two specific incidents of violence engaged in by Lawrence in 2008. In one incident, Lawrence, shortly after being released from restraints, punched another patient in the head four or five times, without provocation, and stated he would do so again in the future. In the second incident, again without provocation and without any signs that he was upset or angry, Lawrence repeatedly punched an HSH staff physician in the head and face after the physician had completed a physical examination of Lawrence.

         On December 19, 2008, the Circuit Court issued an order granting the State's motion, which authorized the involuntary administration of medication to Lawrence until December 19, 2009. Lawrence did not appeal the 2008 order.[5]

         C.

         Lawrence was apparently prosecuted for assaulting the HSH physician during the 2008 incident. He was incarcerated at Halawa and remained there until November 2013. Lawrence's psychiatric records from Halawa indicate that he was "delusional, depressed, and had homicidal ideations at times, " and that a psychiatrist had determined that high doses of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications were necessary. Lawrence, however, consented to take and was compliant with his prescribed medications while at Halawa, and therefore, no order authorizing the involuntary administration of medication had been sought while he was at Halawa.

         D.

         On November 29, 2013, Lawrence was returned to HSH from Halawa. Immediately upon Lawrence's return, he refused all psychotropic medications. "Lawrence refused to sign all paperwork including the consent to receive medication[, ]" stating that "[m]edications don't do anything for me. I've learned to be good without them." Despite these ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.