A Haviland, Kan., man who was undergoing treatment for mental illness has pleaded no contest to a second-degree murder charge in the beating death of another patient last year.
Brandon Brown entered the no contest plea this week in Kiowa County District Court. He awaits sentencing.
Brown was charged with second-degree murder after a May 2015 altercation with 61-year-old Jerry Martinez at the Haviland Care Center, a residential care facility west of Wichita. Martinez died of injuries suffered in the fight a few weeks later.
The fatal beating came just days after Brown scuffled with two other residents at Haviland. After those fights, he was sent to the state-run psychiatric hospital in Osawatomie, Kan., where he spent a week.
He was then returned to Haviland, where he was accused of beating Martinez to death three days later.
Brown’s father, James Brown, has argued that state budget problems prompted Osawatomie to release his son too quickly. The case — and other issues at the hospital — have prompted a review of treatment of the state’s mentally ill.
Critics have said the Osawatomie facility is understaffed and underfunded, but some advocates for the mentally ill have said there is no way to determine from the public record if staff and budget challenges were a factor in Brandon Brown’s release from Osawatomie and return to Haviland.
It’s possible, they said, that Brown showed no signs of potentially aggressive behavior and was released for that reason.
While the Osawatomie State Hospital has recently undergone renovations, it has not yet had its federal reimbursements restored. State lawmakers have discussed several options for the hospital, one of two psychiatric treatment facilities in the state.