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A murderer among us

Man who brutally killed mom will live near Sierra High

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POSTED November 11, 2013 10:07 p.m.

A man that was convicted of brutally stabbing and beating his mother to death may soon call an unlocked Manteca transitional living facility home.

According to The Sacramento Bee, Ronald Benjamin Toppila, 73, was deemed no longer dangerous by a Sacramento judge and is set to be released from the Napa State Hospital to spend upwards of a year at the Northstar Program Facility on South Airport Way.

The site is just blocks from Sierra High School.

Toppila was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the deadly attack on his mother in her Sacramento apartment on Oct. 7, 2004. He reportedly slashed her more than 50 times with a box cutter and broke her ribs, larynx and jaw in the process. Psychiatric professionals that testified during the trial said he suffered from a psychotic condition that made him believe her body had been inhabited by an outside force.

“This court finds that Roland Toppila is no longer a danger to the health and safety of others, including himself, while under the supervision and treatment in the community and will benefit from that status, so long as he remains medication compliant and adheres to his established relapse prevention plan,” Sacramento Superior Court Judge David W. Abbott wrote in a decision that was quoted by The Bee.

The Manteca facility where Toppila will be housed follows the guidelines of California Central Valley Conditional Release Program, and in order to remain in good standing he’ll have to comply with the regulations laid out by the court. After a period of time, according to The Bee, he’ll be reintroduced back to Sacramento through a similar group home.

The Airport Way facility, however, has had its problems in the past.

In 2007, a man originally from San Francisco was charged with murder after stabbing another resident in the building’s back bedroom. Raymond Lee, 63, was initially accused of stabbing a 52-year-old housemate Mark Alan Wade. He had been transferred to the facility from Napa State Hospital after attempted murder and assault charges were dropped in his hometown, and was incarcerated the same year that Toppila reportedly committed his crime.

Toppila’s bid for release from the hospital was rejected by a Sacramento County Judge in 2008, but Abbott, according to the Bee’s story, said that his release today was “warranted by the clinical record” and that his risk for noncompliance with his medication guidelines has become “insignificant.”

But the onus is still on the state.

“If his psychosis returns,” Abbott wrote, “so will his propensity for violence. Adequate supervision by CONREP (conditional release program) is essential in order to assure public safety.”

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