Man Who Killed Father Granted Unsupervised Leave from Mental Hospital

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An Athens man who was found innocent by reason of insanity in the stabbing death of his father has been granted unsupervised movement outside of a mental facility.

Jonathan Bebb, 39, had petitioned Athens County Common Pleas Court to allow him to have less restrictive movement while remaining hospitalized.

Judge Leonard Holzapfel, sitting by assignment in the matter, wrote in the decision that Bebb remains a mentally ill person subject to hospitalizations, but that he is entitled to Level 5 movement privileges while hospitalized.

Level 5 privileges mean that Bebb can be off hospital grounds unsupervised.

According to the decision, Dr. Indre Rukseniene had testified that Bebb “is showing more affect and spontaneity and that his insight has improved.” Rukseniene also testified that the risk of violence for Bebb is low.

“(Bebb) is still subject to hospitalization and still requires medication and that the goal of his treatment is reintegration into society,” Rukseniene testified.

Bebb has been in custody of the state since 2008 when he was found innocent by reason of insanity in the 2007 murder of his father, Phillip Bebb, a retired professor at Ohio University. Jonathan Bebb stabbed his father more than 50 times.

Jonathan Bebb was committed to Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare but, through treatment for his mental illness, he has spent the last couple of years at a less restrictive environment in Cincinnati’s Summit Behavioral Healthcare.

In December of 2013, Bebb was granted Level 4 privileges which allowed him to leave the grounds of the psychiatric facility but only under the condition he be supervised at all times.

Since being committed, Bebb has been under constant treatment and testimony at various court hearings indicate that, although slow, he has improved mentally. He successfully overcame barriers to decrease his levels of restriction while in custody.

Despite testimony at a hearing earlier this year from two physicians that Bebb was ready for the less restrictive movement and was a good candidate for it, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said he was “concerned and disappointed” by the decision.

“His actions not that long ago were very violent in nature,” Blackburn said Friday.

In his own mind, Bebb’s attack on his father was an act of self-defense. During his trial, Bebb rationalized that his father was the cause of a number of perceived (but unsubstantiated) attacks on him and the death of Phillip Bebb meant that Jonathan Bebb would have no more issues. Bebb did not believe he was mentally ill and did not believe he needed treatment.

Despite being found innocent by reason of insanity, the nature of the offense warranted a life-long prison sentence meaning the court retains jurisdiction over Bebb for the rest of his life.

A call to the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Mental Services asking for exact details of the Level 5 privileges for Bebb was not returned by Messenger’s deadline.