By DINESH RAMDE
WAUKESHA, Wis. (AP) — A man who’s been institutionalized since killing two Waukesha County police officers as a teenager in 1975 could be freed next month, if state officials can find housing for him in a different county.
Alan A. Randall, 55, won tentative release in April after mental health experts testified that he hasn’t suffered from a mental illness since 1989. A judge on Thursday was willing to release him, but postponed his decision for 30 days while the state tries to find appropriate living arrangements.
The victims’ families don’t want Randall to come back to Waukesha County, and Randall would prefer to go to Madison or Neenah where he has job opportunities and support networks. But the only housing the state has been able to find so far is in Waukesha County. So Judge Donald Hassin set another hearing for next month to give officials more time to consider options.
Randall was convicted of gunning down Summit police officers Robert “Rocky” Atkins and Wayne Olson at age 16, and using their squad car to commit a burglary. He was also suspected of killing his neighbor two weeks earlier.
He was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder, four counts of burglary and one count of stealing a car. But the court found that Randall wasn’t responsible for the crimes because he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time.
He was committed to a mental institution, with the stipulation that he serve 10 years of probation upon his release. If he were to violate the terms of probation he’d be subject to a 10-year prison sentence for the homicides.
Over the years Randall successfully completed treatment programs in the mental health institutions. Officials were satisfied enough that they granted him off-ground privileges, including the ability to attend college classes and work 40 hours per week at a local business.
In 1990 he petitioned for a re-examination of his mental condition. Even though mental health experts testified that he was free from mental illness, prosecutors pushed to keep him institutionalized, arguing that he could still be a danger to himself or others.
An appeals court and the state Supreme Court upheld the state’s right to hold him in a mental health facility even though he didn’t have a mental health issue. The justices said he should remain where he’d have access to treatment should he ever need it.
Eventually, Randall was able to persuade a jury that he should be released. The victims’ families weren’t happy about the decision but said if he were to be freed it shouldn’t be back to Waukesha County.
Randall also didn’t want to go back. He hoped to return to Neenah, where he’d worked in an art gallery, or Madison, where he worked odd jobs, defense attorney Craig Powell said at Thursday’s hearings. He has job offers in both places and friends who could help ease him into life outside an institution, he added.
District attorney Brad Schimel agreed, saying it would be in everyone’s best interest to put Randall where he could be successful.
Judge Hassin directed officials with the state Department of Health Services to spend the next 30 days trying to find living accommodations for Randall in the Fox Valley area, preferably but not necessarily in a group home.
The widow and sister of Atkins, one of the slain police officers, said they were resigned to the fact that Randall would be getting out. But they said what continues to bother them was that Randall has never shown remorse or apologized to their families.
Diane Stojanovich, Atkins’ sister, said she drew no solace from the fact that Randall was at least institutionalized for 38 years. She also felt his punishment did not fit the crime.
“He got away with murdering three people,” she said softly, standing outside the courtroom after the hearing. “I think people who commit murder should be committed to prison.”