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Ericson Found Not Guilty In Hatchet Attack Due To Mental Illness
Updated August 17, 2017 6:43 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(NASHVILLE) - Dana Ericson was found not guilty by Brown Circuit Court Judge Judith Stewart on Wednesday.

Judge Stewart ruled that 61-year-old Ericson was not guilty as a result of mental disease or defect during a two-day bench trial. He will be committed to a state mental institution until he is deemed competent. Judge Stewart ruled Ericson has a 30-year history of serious mental illness, was not responsible and could not be held criminally accountable for the hatchet attack.

"It's one of the hardest decisions the court has had to make," she said, "but it is also clear cut. Mr. Ericson has suffered from mental illness for decades, and continues to," Stewart said.

Ericson is charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery and battery causing serious injury after he attacked now 19-year-old Yue Zhang of China twice in the back with a hatchet on February 18, 2016.

According to police, Ericson approached Zhang, yelling he was going to kill her and striking her in the back with a hatchet.

Zhang, who was attending Brown County High School as an exchange student, was struck while taking photos for a high school class near Trolly's BBQ in downtown Nashville. Police say Ericson ran across Van Buren Street near the courthouse and hit her in the back two times with a hatchet. Zhang's thick coat prevented her injury from being fatal.

She was treated at a Columbus hospital for a deep, 2-inch laceration that measured about an inch wide and was released. Her heavy coat lessened the impact from the three-inch blade that caused a cut an inch from her spinal column.

After his arrest, Ericson, told police he was attempting "ethnic cleansing." He testified Tuesday saying the attack was out of character and he has no racial hatred.

Zhang, who is overseas, did not testify in person, but a transcript of her deposition was entered into evidence.

She completed the school year and got her diploma, returning to China May 28, 2016. She said she was suicidal after the attack and is getting psychiatric treatment to deal with the trauma.

Ericson, two psychiatrists and his 100-year-old mother told the court that he has a long history of mental illness. Ericson had not taken his medication for weeks before the attack and was in a psychotic state when the attacked happen.

Forensic psychiatrist George Palmer testified Ericson was delusional and probably hallucinating at the time of the attack. He had assessed Ericson's mental status several times over the past 14 years and says Ericson's mental health issues are real and severe.

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