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'Angel of death' transferred to less restrictive facility

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:02 PM EDT, Fri September 7, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • David Attias has been behind the walls of a mental hospital for 10 years
  • He will now get treatment at an outpatient facility
  • He killed four people in 2001 when he plowed his car down a California street
  • He was convicted then pronounced not guilty by reason of insanity

(CNN) -- A man who in 2001 ran over five people, killing four of them, then exclaimed he was the "angel of death," will be transferred from a California mental hospital to a less restrictive facility.

David Attias, son of director Daniel Attias, has been at Patton State Hospital in San Bernardino, California, for the past 10 years. On February 23, 2001, David Attias sped down a road in Isla Vista, near the campus of the University of California-Santa Barbara. He ran over five people and hit nine parked cars.

Elie Israel, Chris Divis, Nick Bourdakis and Ruth Levy died that night and Ruth's brother, Albert, suffered debilitating injuries.

Attias was reportedly forcibly detained by witnesses that night and told them he was the "angel of death."

He was convicted in June 2002 of four murders, but a week later a jury ruled him not guilty by reason insanity.

This month, Judge Thomas R. Adams ruled that Attias can be released from the hospital and be treated at a less restrictive facility. But if Attias "falters in his treatment rehabilitation" he will be sent back to Patton hospital.

"The David Attias that was called to testify by the prosecution was clearly not the same vacant, troubled and confused David Attias that this court first became acquainted with in 2001."

Santa Barbara Senior Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman told CNN affiliate KTLA that Attias, now 30, should stay at Patton State Hospital.

"You can't ignore history," Waldman said, according to the KTLA report. "Every scientist will tell you the best predictor of the future is the past. He is a violent human being."

One of the victims' fathers agreed.

"A lot of people, unfortunately, could get hurt," Tony Bourdakis told KTLA.

Attias' attorney, public defender Deedrea Edgar, said he will still get around-the-clock state supervision at the new facility.

He just won't be behind walls and barbed wire anymore, she said.

In the ruling, Adams said he heard from seven witnesses and only one health professional objected to Attias being released. That person had never met Attias, the judge noted.

Adams wrote that each defense witness said Attias was no longer a danger to others.

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