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Woman sentenced in stabbing case

A woman who stabbed a man in a Medford park while suffering from a psychotic disorder has been sentenced to up to 10 years in an Oregon State Hospital psychiatric facility.

Jackson County Circuit Judge David Hoppe on Thursday ruled Heather Marie Everman, 26, was guilty of second-degree assault except for insanity.

She lacked the ability to understand the criminal nature of the act, he said.

"You present a substantial danger to others and require commitment to the state hospital," Hoppe told Everman.

Everman was likely suffering from paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations when she stabbed Algie Paul Burdis, 24, for no apparent reason with a knife in the lower back in Pear Blossom Park, Hoppe said.

The stabbing took place in October 2014. Burdis, whose injury was not life-threatening, had been sitting on a bench in the park with a group of people.

Everman was taken to the Oregon State Hospital for mental health treatment, then returned to Jackson County to stand trial before Hoppe after her mental state improved.

Her court-appointed defense attorney, John Hamilton, said Everman was like a different person after she received treatment, compared to when she was in the throes of her delusional state.

"This is a tragedy of our current mental health system," Hamilton said, noting it took the stabbing and Everman's entry into the criminal justice system for her to get the mental health treatment she needed.

He said the stabbing likely would never have happened if Everman had received medication and treatment earlier.

In her jail booking photo, Everman was dirty and had a bandage on her face and tissue stuffed up one nostril. In court Thursday, her hair was done up neatly in a bun and she was able to speak and politely answer questions.

"It is a tragedy you are here today," Hoppe said.

Soon after the stabbing, Dennis McNamara, a licensed clinical social worker with Jackson County Mental Health, visited Everman in jail. He said at that time she was unable to aid and assist in her own defense, and suffered from a serious mental disorder.

"While in jail she remained in separation due to her being uncooperative, assaultive with deputies, unpredictable, and not eating," McNamara wrote in an October letter to Everman's defense attorney. "She spends a good deal of her time standing at her door blankly staring out."

In jail, Everman hit a jail staff person with both fists and was charged with misdemeanor harassment. That case was dismissed when she was sentenced in the second-degree assault case for the stabbing.

Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil said Everman will be under the supervision of the state Psychiatric Security Review Board for up to 10 years.

She could be released from the Oregon State Hospital before 10 years if the board makes a determination she is fit to be released into the community, Geil said.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.