VALPARAISO | A judge said Friday he would be willing to release a developmentally disabled woman from jail and place her back at home if guarantees can be made for proper supervision.
Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford began the process by announcing plans to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the interests of 35-year-old Crystal Patrick, an autistic woman charged with multiple offenses, including theft, resisting law enforcement and disorderly conduct.
Bradford scheduled a follow-up hearing for July 1 but said the release back home or into another facility could be handled sooner if arrangements are completed before that time.
Patrick was unable to understand the nature of her charges during an initial hearing last week before Bradford. Bradford refused to release Patrick from jail out of concern for her needs and the responsibility to protect society.
Patrick was not brought over from the jail for Friday's hearing, yet her mother was present in the courtroom.
Bradford said the limitations posed by Patrick create an unusual situation. He called on Patrick's mother to cooperate with the guardian ad litem by opening her home for an investigation to determine what steps need to be taken for the potential return of her daughter.
Patrick was arrested May 31 on charges of taking beer from a refrigerator on a man's outdoor deck.
Patrick's mother blamed herself last week for Patrick slipping out her home that night, saying there were no alarms on the windows.
Patrick's sister Charlotte Patrick, of South Bend, criticized police for using a Taser on her sister during the arrest. She described her sister as someone who cannot write her name and who can barely carry on a conversation.
Portage Police Chief Troy Williams defended the Taser use as appropriate, saying Patrick refused to come out of hiding behind a shed, left her hands in her pockets despite police commands to show her hands and attempted to flee.