MASON CITY, Iowa – It was emotional in the courtroom for the family and friends of a North Iowa man who murdered his father.
No matter what the bond was between father and son, Thomas Barlas Jr., the fact remains, he stabbed his father to death on July 18th, 2013.
He’s now living with the consequences, from what experts say was a psychotic episode.
“We knew from the medical reports, from the states experts, and also the defense experts, that at the time this act was committed, he was legally insane,” said Carlyle Dalen, Cerro Gordo County Attorney.
Wednesday, court started with a question and answer from Judge Gregg Rosenbladt to Barlas Jr. After it was understood that Barlas realizes what he did, the judge moved on to cover testimony made during the hearing. Judge Rosenbladt stated two psychiatric experts were asked to testify, after examining Barlas. They determined he was suffering from a mental illness, such as psychosis and paranoia, at the time of the stabbing. Judge Rosenbladt then determined that Thomas Barlas Jr,.was not guilty by reason of insanity.
“Not only does it show that the court has compassion for people who suffer from mental illnesses, it’s a part of Mr. Barlas and his recovery,” said Aaron Hamrock, Barlas’ Defense Attorney.
The ruling means the next phase is recovery. What will it take to get Barlas mental health help. The state asked to have him taken to a facility in Oakdale, a locked and secure site, a prison-setting. The defense wanted him to be taken to a facility in Cherokee, which is locked, but not secure. After further ruling, it was decided he will be taken to the Iowa Medical and Classification Center in Oakdale.
One major question being asked: once he has been evaluated in Oakdale, how long it will be before he’s released?
“Whether he will be housed long term at the mental health facility in Oakdale, or whether there is another appropriate facility, or what will happen regarding his mental health, is unknown” said Dalen.
There’s still a chance, Barlas will someday be back in society.
“Let’s make sure Mr. Barlas is not a danger to himself, or a danger to the community. The ultimate goal is going to be to re-integrate Mr. Barlas back into the community, and that’s what we should be doing with people who suffer from mental health issues.” said Hamrock.
Results of Barlas’ mental health evaluation are expected to be given to the judge in the next 30 days. Another hearing will then take place to decide where he’ll go from there, and for how long.
Barlas is said to have battled mental illness over the years. At the time of the stabbing, attorneys say he was taking medication, but not properly.
This is the first time Judge Rosenbladt has ever made a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity.