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Man won’t face jail in ‘bath salts’ goat incident

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- An Alum Creek man will not be held criminally responsible for allegedly stealing, sexually assaulting and killing his neighbor's pygmy goat while high on the synthetic cocaine known as "bath salts."After several mental evaluations over the last year and half, Mark Lucas Thompson is not competent for trial on the charges he faces for animal cruelty, a Kanawha County Circuit judge found Monday.Instead, Judge James C. Stucky ordered that Thompson spend 6 1/2 years in treatment at the William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital, in Weston, in lieu of prison. Because Thompson has been in the regional jail system since May 2011 and Stucky gave him credit for time served, he may only spend up to five years in the Sharpe mental health facility."I don't think the jail system is the place for him," Kanawha County assistant prosecutor Fred Giggenbach said of Thompson.But he added that after Thompson spends five years in treatment, "he's not just released back into society if he's still mentally unstable and presents a danger to himself or others."Giggenbach said that when Thompson is released from state custody, prosecutors might ask a judge to commit him to a civilian mental facility. The state would continue to pay for his treatment at that point, he said.On May 2, 2011, police said, Thompson was high on bath salts when his neighbors found him in his room, dressed in women's clothing, standing next to the dead goat.The neighbors had suspected that Thompson, who had a history of erratic behavior, had stolen the goat. When they entered his house and announced their presence, Thompson told them not to come in his room because he was naked, according to previous Gazette reports.After police searched the home later, they found a pornographic magazine lying a few feet from the goat's bloodied body. Kanawha County sheriff's deputies confirmed that the goat had at least one stab wound.
Thompson told police that he had been high on bath salts for three days.Giggenbach said Monday that Thompson was not found to be criminally responsible for the crime based on his history of mental illness. Bath salts, however, played a role in the bizarre circumstances that led to the goat's death, he said.Last year, a grand jury indicted Thompson on misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty and petit larceny, along with an additional felony charge of animal cruelty. Giggenbach said that the misdemeanor charge accused Thompson of sexually assaulting the goat, while the felony charge accused him of killing the animal.Thompson's lawyer, John Carr, said that his client has been repeatedly found incompetent to stand trial, and asked that his treatment be in the "least restrictive environment" possible. Carr declined to comment after the hearing.Thompson's case is one of many strange cases connected to bath salts, which experts say induces psychosis. Recent legislation banned the drug for sale in West Virginia.In September 2010, a Chinese food deliverywoman was struck in the head with pellets from a 12-gauge shotgun after Arthur Jackson Byrd III ran out from his Nitro apartment and fired the weapon over his head. Byrd, according to police was high on bath salts and hydrocodone and hallucinating that someone was burglarizing his home.
The deliverywoman, Min Lin, survived the shotgun blast. Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom sentenced Byrd to five years in prison last year.Since January 2011, the West Virginia Poison Control Center, in Charleston, has taken 171 calls about bath salts -- most of them from health-care professionals who need help treating someone who has ingested the synthetic drug.Reach Zac Taylor at or 304-348-5189.
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