Legal issues delay state's release of sex predator
Contra Costa felon must wait a year after his hospitalization
A sex predator seeking to be released from a state mental hospital to Contra Costa under California's sexually violent predator law won't be able to win his freedom until May, prosecutors said Friday.
Although a judge on Jan. 24 granted Cary Verse's request for release from Atascadero State Hospital, Verse, 32, can't walk free until at least May 7 -- a year after he was committed again to the hospital.
At a hearing Friday before Contra Costa Superior Court Judge John Minney, prosecutor Brian Haynes said state law prohibits freeing sex offenders from treatment until a year has passed since they last sought release into the public.
Meanwhile, state officials charged with finding housing for Verse after he is released said Friday they had come up empty. Lawyers will be back in court in three weeks to discuss the status of the case.
"I'd be very surprised if he was released at the next date either," Haynes said following Friday's hearing in Martinez.
Verse, who is being kept at Atascadero and did not appear in court Friday, has a history of sexual violence that dates back to his teen years. His most recent criminal offense was in 1992 -- the sexual assault of a man at a homeless shelter in the Richmond area.
Verse was paroled for that crime in 1998 and sent to Atascadero, where by Haynes' admission he has been a "star pupil," convincing even a doctor who once testified against him that he is ready for release.
A chemical castration device has been implanted in Verse's arm and he will be monitored by a global positioning system while living in public.
But Haynes has argued Verse is still conflicted about his homosexual orientation and the Jehovah's Witness faith that he has embraced. Verse has asked to live in the Martinez area to be closer to a Jehovah's Witness church. Prosecutors are fighting his bid for freedom.
Verse's lawyer, Contra Costa Deputy Public Defender Ron Boyer, said Friday that efforts to find suitable living arrangements for his client had been "minimal" at best. Boyer said state officials had not been in contact with Verse following last month's court order to set him free.
Deputy Attorney General Susan King told the court that under an agreement with county officials and the state Department of Mental Health, the county is not obligated to find housing for Verse. Boyer countered that state law requires the county to do so.
Minney agreed Friday to delay ruling on the numerous legal issues raised in the case, giving lawyers time to file motions to be heard March 7.
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