Violent, mentally ill San Mateo County woman seeks release from hospital 

A historically violent patient at Napa State Hospital wants out, but prosecutors in San Mateo County say she’s not ready.

A court trial is being held this week on whether to release 39-year-old Pamela Maria Allen from the mental hospital. Allen, a 15-year patient of the hospital, was found not guilty by reason of insanity of two attempted murder counts in East Palo Alto in 1994.

Allen shot two of her father’s friends with a shotgun as they played a game of dominos.

The diagnosed schizophrenic “was very delusional” and believed the friends were selling her father drugs, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan said.

Mitri Hanania, Allen’s attorney,called his client’s case heart-wrenching, saying that before the shooting Allen had been a victim of violent acts that exacerbated her mental illness.

“Pamela Allen is working hard in terms of her treatment in order to be released,” Hanania said. “We just feel the time has come to move her along in the system.”

Prosecutors say they believe Allen remains a danger to the public.

She has had a history of assaulting staff and other patients, particularly when she is off her medication, they said.

In 2001, she reportedly stabbed her psychiatrist.

While she hasn’t been violent in recent years, “she degrades and is extremely violent” while off her medication, McKowan said.

The trial this week may be less about releasing Allen from mental hospital than assessing why she hasn’t been moved to a less restrictive area of the institution.

Allen’s two doctors say her treatment plan has evolved over the years to the point that she can safely be moved to the less restrictive “open unit” of the hospital, McKowan said.

McKowan said it’s likely that Napa State Hospital has been hesitant to move patients to less restrictive care since a patient killed a nurse last year.

On Oct. 23, patient Jess Willard Massey allegedly strangled 54-year-old Donna Gross to death after demanding cash and cigarettes.

Since then, the hospital has faced intense scrutiny. Last month, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health fined the hospital $100,000 for safety failures.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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