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9 Investigates: State hospital sued after civil patient killed by criminal patient

ORLANDO, Fla. — From the time she was a child, Angela Barrett only knew her father one way.

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He had long struggled with a mental illness. Warren Barrett was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia when he was just 19 years old. Family tragedy pushed him to move his family to the Orlando area from South Florida.

“We ended up moving up here because my dad was very distraught over the death of his mom. For several months, he had tried committing suicide,” Angela Barrett told Channel 9 Anchor and Investigative Reporter Daralene Jones.

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In 2005, the family made the difficult decision to have him committed under the state’s Baker Act Law, at the advice of local authorities, and after various suicide attempts. 

The law allows loved ones to get emergency mental health services and temporary detention for people who are impaired because of their mental illness, and who are unable to determine their needs for treatment.

He went back and forth from hospitals to local treatment programs.

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“Somehow, he ended up being put in a motel on John Young Parkway and 50, kind of by himself, with a social worker, his case workers coming by once a week to make sure he was taking his medication. One day, he tried walking into traffic to kill himself and that’s how he ended up at Northeast Florida State Hospital, for the second time, and the last time, unfortunately,” Barrett said.

Northeast Florida State Hospital is about 2 ½ hours northwest of Orlando.

Barrett was a civil patient housed in a room with a forensic patient, Mark Stone, who killed him.

Forensic patients are under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families when a court determines they are unfit to stand trial for criminal charges or they’re found guilty by reason of insanity.

Lake County court records show Stone had been charged with attempted second-degree murder, after he sliced his mother’s throat in 2001.

But he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to hospitalization for treatment. 

“I was in shock; I couldn’t believe it. They had actually stated who it was … so just wondering why was he at that hospital cause I never knew they had criminal patients at that hospital at all,” Barrett said.

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Stone had been re-committed to the state hospital in 2019. He had beaten Barrett so badly, according to his arrest affidavit, Barrett suffered a traumatic brain injury, requiring a highly skilled nurse for the rest of his life, and he would have no mental awareness.

He died days later.

“I really didn’t find out the extent of his injuries until the hospital he was transferred to called me and said essentially his brain activity is not there, he doesn’t have any and they needed, suggested I should just take him off the respirator and let him pass,” Barrett said.

Nine Investigates has asked DCF questions about Barrett’s case and others, dating back to mid-March, because it oversees the state mental health hospitals.

After repeated follow-ups, a spokesperson sent a short email on May 8 stating:

The Department is continuing to work on your request. The Department does not have a specific time on when your request will be completed. I will continue to update you as I get more information on your request.”

The Baker County Sheriff’s Office expressed concerns in records that we reviewed about the delay in the beating being reported to the law enforcement agency.

It was 17 hours before deputies were dispatched to the state hospital to investigate, and the crime scene had mostly been cleaned up, according to law enforcement records.

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The sheriff’s office report notes that the security staff at NEFSH told detectives that there was no protocol in place to remove Stone, away from other civil patients, but a request had been put in to have him transferred to a different facility for forensic patients, and that would take several days.

One of the employees interviewed described the bloody scene as horrific.

“His face, you could tell it was badly beaten, it was already purple. He had like blood on his face, busted lip, his eyes were closed. I actually thought he was dead,” she told a detective in one of nearly a dozen recorded interviews 9 Investigates obtained.

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A NEFESH psychologist, who had ongoing interactions with Stone told investigators he didn’t belong at the civil hospital.

“He needs to be in a secure forensic environment, where they can better manager him because in those environments, they don’t have roommates, typically. It’s a little bit closer to a jail setting,” she said.

A pending lawsuit against the Florida Department of Children and Families and Northeast Florida State Hospital details a similar attack seven months earlier between a patient here for mental help, and another here for criminal charges.

Fearful of retaliation, the victim’s mother asked us not to use his name or reveal her identity.

“When my son went to a civil hospital, I thought my son was safe. I didn’t know that his life was in jeopardy,” she said to Jones. He was being treated for a traumatic brain injury, requiring one to one supervision 24-7, according to the lawsuit.

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Her son was attacked, according to law enforcement and court records by Markeith Loyd Jr., the son of convicted cop killer, Markeith Loyd, who’s currently on death row for the murder of Orlando Police Lieutenant Deborah Clayton.

And he’s also serving time for the murder of his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Sade Dixon.

Loyd Jr. was supposed to have two employees supervising him, attacked her son, while he was sleeping, hitting him in the face multiple times with a closed fist.

“Nobody even knew if any of the individual had someone with them at the time,” the victim’s mother said.

According to law enforcement records, her son was attacked while he was sleeping, Loyd Jr. hitting him in the face multiple times with a closed fist.

Loyd Jr., according to the same sheriff’s office report, attacked an employee the day before.

And the lawsuit the family has filed alleges Loyd Jr. had attacked several staff, including a nurse who suffered facial disfiguration including permanent injury, at another state hospital shortly before he was transferred to NEFSH, where civilly committed patients are treated.

“What’s unfortunate for anyone who has a loved one they want to get help at one of these hospitals is that nothing has changed,” Attorney Ryan Andrews stated.

At the time, according to the lawsuit Andrews filed, DCF had a forensic waitlist that increased from 150 in 2020 to 450 at the end of 2021. We have requested updated numbers, but the agency has not responded to those requests, either.

The hospital told the family of the man who Loyd Jr. attacked, that he died from COVID, but in April of this year, the state Bureau of Vital Statistics re-issued a death certificate, after his mother fought for it, and it’s now listed as pneumonia and complications of blunt trauma to his chest.

Loyd Jr. remains in custody for treatment at the state hospital, according to records we reviewed through the Baker County Clerk of Courts. Last month, 9 Investigates reported that for the third time in the last year, Loyd had been granted a home pass, allowing him to return home to Orange County under the supervision of his mother. Though, the same judge who originally granted the request in April, reversed the decision after 9 Investigates started asking questions and the family pushed back.

Mark Stone was convicted in February to 21 years in state prison for Angela’s father’s death, but she says there’s only one explanation for what led to it.

“I don’t think the right people were held responsible. How do you put people who are criminals with people who are there to receive treatment.  I blame the hospital; I blame the state of Florida because the only reason Mark Stone was in that room was because of them,” Barrett said.

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