PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man charged with killing his father more than 2½ years ago was found not guilty by reason of insanity and committed to a state psychiatric hospital Thursday.
Shay Clinton Darrow, 30, did not dispute that he shot and killed Clint Leroy Darrow with a semi-automatic pistol in their shared residence at 201 W. Ninth St. on Jan. 12, 2017.
Shay Darrow, who suffers from schizoaffective disorder, was committed to Western State Hospital in Lakewood, where he will remain until a public safety review panel determines that he is no longer a risk to himself or others.
“Mr. Darrow may be there for the rest of his life,” said Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney.
“He’s severely mentally ill. He has significant deficits, and the community as a whole is safer with the defendant committed to Western State.”
Superior Court Judge Lauren Erickson found Darrow not guilty by reason of insanity as recommended by Devlin and Defense Attorney John Hayden of Clallam Public Defender.
Clint Darrow, who owned the Van Goes Gourmet Pizza & Mexican eatery at 814 S. C St. in west Port Angeles, was 53.
“Clint enjoyed people and had a great sense of humor,” said Iva Johanson, Clint Darrow’s mother.
“He was a hard worker, and even though he had a lot of stress, he would say ‘It is what it is.’
“His family meant the world to him,” Johanson added. “I feel our son is at peace, and he would want what’s best for Shay and to get the help he needs.”
Shay Darrow occasionally wept during a two-hour court hearing Thursday. He did not address the court.
“Clint should never have gone though this brutal attack from his son,” said Ron Darrow, Clint Darrow’s father and Shay Darrow’s grandfather.
“I need peace of knowing that [Shay] is in the hospital under the supervision of the doctors and medical personnel that will treat him with medication that he needs so he cannot harm or kill another person.”
“We will never forget Clint,” Ron Darrow added.
Dr. Barry Ward of the Office of Forensic Evaluation Services opined in a March 15 report that Shay Darrow met the criteria for schizoaffective disorder and was “acutely psychotic” at the time of the shooting.
Port Angeles police said Darrow fired numerous rounds at his father with a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol, at one point stopping to retrieve more ammunition.
“There has been anger that’s built up over the years,” Shay Darrow told an officer after his arrest.
An autopsy showed that Clint Darrow had seven gunshot wounds to his torso and one to his head, deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Woolman said Thursday.
Shay Darrow phoned 9-1-1 to report the shooting. He was arrested without further incident, police said.
Shay Darrow spent 10 months of his first year in custody undergoing competency restoration at Western State.
According to Devlin, Shay Darrow suffered from paranoid delusions and extreme thought disorder and did not disclose all of his symptoms to hospital staff.
“We heard from Dr. Ward that the defendant is the mentally sickest man he’s ever evaluated,” Devlin said.
“We asked him point blank, for community safety, what is the best place for the defendant, and without hesitation Dr. Ward said Western State Hospital.”
Shay Darrow will have “multiple levels of treatment” at Western State, including individual and group therapy, Devlin said.
“This is not something that is available in prison,” Devlin said.
“What Western State does for the defendant is that it treats him and assists him in recognizing his mental health problems and why he did what he did.”
Shay Darrow’s late sister, Chase Darrow, told police that she had been trying to take her brother’s gun in the weeks before the shooting, Detective Shane Martin of the Port Angeles Police Department said in the affidavit for probable cause.
Family members said Shay Darrow had stopped taking his medication prior to the shooting.
“His sister saw it coming,” Hayden said. “She tried to figure out some way to intervene and get help.
“That’s maybe the most dramatic commentary on how we as a society are failing these folks,” Hayden added.
“They can’t get the help they need when they need it.”
Hayden said those in mental health emergencies are often told to wait for several weeks before a bed becomes available.
“The system is so broken,” Hayden said.
“Why, when we pump billions and billions of dollars into that system, they can’t answer a phone call when a teenager has a knife on her wrist, or a young fellow may be in danger of committing a heinous act and people can see it coming, why they didn’t answer the phone and help? I don’t know.
“We won’t solve that issue here today, but it has to be spoken about,” Hayden said. “It has to be out in the open.”
Chyna Darrow, Shay Darrow’s other sister, attended the hearing and provided a statement that Hayden read to the court.
Chyna Darrow said she would support her brother “every step of the way.”
“Buds for life,” she said.
“You can use your special brain to your advantage. With you having such high IQ and artistic ability, maybe you can find a way to express the unseen and bring us into your world.”
Chyna Darrow said her brother was a “guinea pig” for the health care system, having tried a variety of medications without the therapy he has needed for 12 years.
“This community has many people in need of therapy just like my brother,” Chyna Darrow said.
“We need to treat these cases with special care and take them seriously before their illness takes over.
“Something needs to change,” Chyna Darrow added.
“We need more professional help here for the ones who are suffering. Treat these people with love, and take them seriously. There is only so much a family can do.”
Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.