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Barlas found not guilty by reason of insanity

This article was originally posted by Peggy Senzarino on Globe Gazette

MASON CITY | A district judge ruled Wednesday that a Mason City man was not guilty by reason of insanity for the stabbing death of his father.

Thomas Barlas Jr., 43, was charged with first-degree murder in the July 18, 2013, death of his father Thomas Barlas Sr., 73, at the elder Barlas’ Mason City home.

Judge Gregg Rosenbladt ruled Barlas suffered a psychotic episode the night he stabbed his father and could not comprehend right from wrong or appreciate the nature and consequences of his actions.

Psychiatrists for the state and the defense determined Barlas suffered from psychosis, delusions and paranoid behavior.

The trial on the minutes took approximately 40 minutes in Cerro Gordo County District Court Wednesday morning. In a trial on the minutes, the prosecution provides the judge with information which includes a list of witnesses the state planned to call at trial. The judge is also given minutes of testimony which is a synopsis of what witnesses would testify to at a trial.

Barlas will be transported to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale for further mental health evaluation. After the completion of the approximately 30-day evaluation period, a hearing will be held in Cerro Gordo County District Court to determine what will happen to Barlas.

The judge rejected a defense request to send Barlas to a state mental hospital in Cherokee.

“Today has been a big relief for the family. July 18 of last year was just a tragic event not only for the Barlas family but for a community,” said attorney Aaron Hamrock of Des Moines who represented Barlas.

Hamrock said Barlas has lots of issues to deal with as part of his recovery.

“This crime was not a premeditated crime. Mr. Barlas needs to continue with his mental health treatment. And that, I think, is what the court was emphasizing today.”

Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen said the ruling was not a surprise for the state.

“This was something that was anticipated. We knew from the medical experts, we knew from the state’s expert and also the defense experts that at the time that this act was committed that he was legally insane. And so the state cannot go forward with a crime against somebody that was insane at the time they committed that event. That’s what took place here,” Dalen said.

“The doctors said he had a psychotic event where he did not understand right from wrong when he took his father’s life. We understood that. All the experts said that was true.”

Hamrock said following the completion of the mental health evaluation in Oakdale, the court must help determine what is best for Barlas.

“Let’s make sure that Mr. Barlas is not a danger to himself or a danger to the community. The ultimate goal here is going to be to reintegrate Mr. Barlas back in the community and that’s what we should do with people who suffer from mental health issues.”

“We as a society needs to address those. This case has really brought a lot of attention to people who suffer from mental health issues.”

Hamrock said the murder has devastated the Barlas family.

“This is a longtime family of this community. They’ve done a number of wonderful things for the community. I think all the family members are loved by this community and to have this happen, it just tears through a family.”

Barlas is under medical treatment and receives medication for his mental illness.

Hamrock said his client now understands the gravity of his crime.

“That’s a part of being properly medicated. We all understand the gravity of it but we don’t suffer from mental illness. Mr. Barlas does,” Hamrock said.

During Wednesday’s court proceeding, Judge Rosenbladt read a synopsis of what happened the night of July 18, 2013.

Barlas’ mother Kathy returned home to find her son Tom Jr. standing in the garage covered in blood. He claimed to be Jesus Christ and claimed to have killed Satan.

Kathy Barlas found her husband dead in the bedroom. Tom Jr. was taken into custody a short time later in the 1300 block of Second Street Southwest.

Barlas had no contact with his family before being taken back to his cell at the Cerro Gordo County Jail. He did smile at the large contingent of family members seated in the gallery as he was led into the courtroom at the Cerro Gordo County Law Enforcement Center.

Hamrock said the family is very supportive of Barlas.

“They understand that he suffers from mental illness. Everything I know is that Tom and his father Tom, were very close. They would play cards together. They would talk on a daily basis. They really enjoyed each other’s company. Knowing that, this was just devastating for this family. But as time goes on the wounds will heal.”


This article was originally posted by Peggy Senzarino on Globe Gazette

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