Man who killed 6 in Skagit Co. to stay in mental hospital

MOUNT VERNON — A Washington state man who killed six people and wounded four in September 2008 will remain in a mental hospital indefinitely, a Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

The state had sought to transfer Isaac Zamora to prison to serve the four life sentences he was given for his shooting rampage.

Skagit County Judge Michael Rickert ruled that the 31-year-old man has not met the legal or hospital criteria to be released from Western State Hospital in Steilacoom, where he has been held for 2 1/2 years, the Skagit Valley Herald reported.

The judge called Zamora “the most mentally ill criminal in the history of Skagit County.”

“Mr. Zamora is about as dangerous as it gets,” Rickert said at the end of a three-day hearing, adding that Zamora would require “extraordinary care” wherever he’s held.

Zamora pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two murders and guilty to the remaining four. His plea bargain stipulated that he stay at Western State until a court ordered him moved to prison.

The state Department of Social and Health Services petitioned for Zamora’s discharge from the hospital last year.

The state argued that Zamora’s psychotic symptoms are well-managed with medication and in partial remission. The defense contended that he still exhibits mental illness symptoms.

The mental hospital’s current diagnoses for Zamora are major depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms and anti-social personality disorder.

Washington state contends the personality disorder problems cannot be corrected by hospital treatment. A defense expert testified that Zamora suffers from schizophrenia, which can vary in severity, but has treatable symptoms.

On Sept. 2, 2008, Zamora killed neighbors in the small Skagit County town of Alger, construction workers, a driver on Interstate 5, and Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputy Anne Jackson.

“Isaac was severely mentally ill during the entirety of the tragedy,” his mother, Dennise Zamora, said of the shootings. “In our country we don’t have any laws that say it’s against the law to be mentally ill, but they treat the mentally ill as if they’re lawbreakers.”

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