"Shotgun Stalker" Denied Release

D.C. judge nixes brief release from man who killed 4

Friday, Feb 25, 2011  |  Updated 12:00 PM EDT
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Shotgun Stalker Back in Court

A survivor testified against the Shotgun Stalker's request for a day pass. (Courtroom sketches by Bill Hennessy.)

Archive Video: James Swann's Insanity Plea

Joe Kreb's report from July 15, 1994 on James Swann's insanity defense.
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A man who killed four people and wounded five others in shotgun attacks nearly 20 years ago won't be released from his psychiatric hospital to spend the day with his father.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Fred Ugast on Friday denied a request from James Swann Jr. to be released for a 12-hour window. He said Swann "would be a danger to himself or others" and that it was premature to allow him into the community.

In 14 attacks, Swann slowly approached victims and then shot at them at close range with a 20-gauge shotgun. He said that he was goaded to commit the killings by "evil spirits" in retaliation for the shooting of Malcolm X. In his videotaped confession, Swann said, "The spirits threatened me and my family so that I would do what the spirits told me to do."

In 1994, a D.C. Supreme Court judge found Swann not guilty of the 32 weapons and homicide charges brought against him by reason of insanity. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly said in her decision that the defendant "lacked the capacity to ascertain the correctness of his actions for the most part, even though he did take precautions to conceal his identity and elude capture by authorities."

He was diagnosed as schizophrenic, and has since suffered from delusions and hallucinations.

He has been committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital, a psychiatric facility.

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