Alaska vexed by what to do with legally insane killer

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A state Superior Court judge and a well-known Anchorage prosecutor are locked in an unusual and bitter legal dispute that has landed before the Alaska Court of Appeals. Hanging in the balance is the future of one of Alaska's few legally insane killers.

Prosecutor Jay Fayette says Judge John Suddock violated the rules when he approached a state commissioner outside the courtroom and talked about a case. He wants Suddock to remove himself from the case, but Suddock is refusing to walk away, saying he did nothing wrong.

The issue in front of the court is one that has vexed state officials for years: The future of Brian Dussault, the last Alaska defendant be found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity. He is one of the last long-term killers still housed at the state's mental hospital, the Alaska Psychiatric Institute.

Dussault is a schizophrenic who killed his wife in 1984 because, as he explained at the time, her body was invaded by red square crystal beings from outer space. Now 52, he says he's better, is taking his medications, and wants out. While one mental health expert said he could be fine out of custody with the right managed care, most of the experts at API say he's still a danger and could kill again.

Prosecutors want to keep him locked up.

Suddock is supposed to decide.

The trouble started when Suddock informed the lawyers that he had talked to Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Bill Hogan about the case.

In a pile of court papers filed by both sides, Fayette says Suddock acted un-judgelike when he approached Hogan at an October 2008 judicial conference in Girdwood about the case. Fayette claims Suddock asked the commissioner to help find a way for Dussault to get out of API. Suddock denies it. He says he was merely informing the commissioner that someone from his department needed to be assigned to the case.

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