Man accused in eye gouging moved to State Hospital

RIVERTON — After an apparent disagreement between a Lander judge and the Wyoming State Hospital, the Dubois man accused of gouging out a woman’s eye, possibly causing her death, is now at the Wyoming State Hospital, according to court documents released to The Ranger last week. 

Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt prepared and released the file on Patrick Rose, born 1967. 

Several portions could not be included in the public file, according to court staff, because of the statutory limitations on mental illness and other disclosures. 

Rose was hospitalized for psychiatric issues in SageWest Health Care in Lander on Thanksgiving Day 2020, when, according to hospital staff, he rushed out of his own room, into an elderly woman’s room, and gouged out the woman’s eye. 

The court documents establishing probable cause aver that Rose severed an artery as well, and was attempting to gouge out the woman’s other eye, “but was unsuccessful.” 

Officers indicated there was a human eyeball on the floor upon their arrival and that the victim, 72-year-old Elaine Tillman, had lost a lot of blood. 

Tillman died in the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City on Dec. 9. The court has not yet made a ruling on whether her death was a direct result of the reported attack. 

The newly released documents note that Rose’s 18-year acquired brain injury, which causes cognitive issues, is due to “heavy metal toxicity.” 

In a Jan. 13 filing, Rose’s former attorney, Jeremy Hugus, noted that Rose had been spending between 23 and 24 hours in his own cell at the Fremont County Detention Center, with little contact with other people. 

Rose had “at times gone three days in a row without being let out of his cell, and has been left in social isolation in an unfamiliar environment,” wrote the defense attorney. “This places the defendant in an out-of-control stress response, which can increase his risk for high cortisol levels, increased blood pressure and inflammation.” 

Hugus also wrote that Rose had lost between 20 and 30 pounds and was dealing with digestive issues. 

He had, the attorney argued, never had a violent incident before, and had been cared for by his wife throughout his cognitive difficulties. 

While it is unclear just which bond terms were argued during the hearing requested by Hugus, Denhardt denied them in clear language, writing that “As a crime of violence the (reported) acts of the defendant are gruesome, terrible, and horrifying. Why someone would do what the defendant has (allegedly) done is without explanation at this juncture of the case. 

“The court finds that the defendant could repeat his acts as perpetrated on the victim in this case upon any one, at any time, without provocation.” 

On March 5, Denhardt hosted a hearing in which both the state and the defense agreed Rose was not mentally fit to proceed with his own case. 

A report on Rose’s mental status noted that he “would benefit from the continued use of psychotropic medications and additional observation regarding his cognitive defects, though it remains unclear if Mr. Rose would improve with repeated education related to his legal case.”

Denhardt wrote at that time that the local jail was not proper housing for Rose, in his condition.

“The defendant needs to be housed at the Wyoming State Hospital, where he can be properly treated, with the hope that within the foreseeable future, he will be competent to proceed in this action.” 

He also wrote that if the Wyoming State Hospital determines that Rose will not be fit to prosecute in the “foreseeable future,” then prosecutors must begin Title 25 (mental health incarceration and provision) proceedings.” 

Without the Title 25 process, Denhardt would “be forced to release the defendant.” 

Fremont County Attorney Patrick LeBrun may not, by statute, comment publicly on Title 25 matters. 

A brief letter from Wyoming Department of Health admissions coordinator Lisa Finkel to Denhardt written March 10 – just days after Denhardt ordered Rose to be placed in a more suitable location — indicates that the State Hospital was not at all ready for the new charge. 

“We do not have a bed available for Mr. Rose and there are 13 individuals ahead of him on our wait list,” the letter reads. “We will admit Mr. Rose as promptly as we can and will keep the court informed of the progress.” 

In a memo filed March 19, Denhardt rebuked the State Hospital’s reluctance, writing that “the defendant needs to be transferred to the Wyoming State Hospital for treatment and further evaluation.” 

He acknowledged the capacity issue, but said that the Lander jail “is an inappropriate placement due to his mental issues.” 

“The court is going to issue an order to show cause to the WSH, requiring the WSH to appear in court to explain IN DETAIL (emphasis Denhardt’s) why it cannot house the defendant in its facility in Evanston or in another treatment facility.” 

The judge wrote that if it was an “economic” issue, then it must be overcome, because “some things transcend economics, and if money is the issue, Mr. Rose’s plight trumps the money issue.

“The state of Wyoming has a legal obligation to provide the services needed for individuals in Mr. Rose’s situation.” 

By March 30, Denhardt had penned an order mandating Rose’s transfer to the State Hospital as soon as the latter could receive him. 

“If no information is forthcoming from the Wyoming State Hospital concerning a date when it can receive the defendant, then the Sheriff of Fremont County shall transport the defendant and deliver the defendant to the State Hospital on May 10, 2021.