Patient accused in Central State killing was already facing murder charges

A Central State Hospital patient accused of killing another patient Sunday was charged with murder for allegedly killing his cellmate in the DeKalb County jail in January.

Saleeban Adan, 30, of Decatur, is charged with killing 37-year-old Christopher Wayne Yates at Central State Hospital on Sunday night, according to the GBI.

Adan was sent to Central State Hospital three months ago for an evaluation after he was accused of killing his cellmate 51-year-old Godfrey Cook on Jan. 8. Adan was in the DeKalb County jail awaiting trial on another murder charge when he allegedly killed Cook, who was jailed on drug charges.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, which operates the jail, received an order from a judge warning them of Adan’s mental illness the day after Cook was killed.

A judge ruled Adan incompetent to stand trial in a 2001 murder case. In February 2008, a state psychologist ruled Adan competent to stand trial in the same case. DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Mikki Jones said Adan then was transferred from a state mental facility to the DeKalb County jail. Oct. 24, another psychologist found Adan was not competent to stand trial. A judge agreed and found Adan was mentally ill and a danger to others, according to a court order.

A Central State Hospital employee making routine rounds discovered Yates dead in his room in the Cook Building, a maximum security area of the hospital, about 9 p.m. Sunday, said Tom Davis, an agent at the GBI’s Milledgeville office.

Autopsy results revealed Yates, of Centerville, was strangled and beaten, Davis said.

Adan and Yates were not sharing a room, he said.

“We don’t really know what the altercation was about,” he said.

Adan was arrested Tuesday in connection with Yates’ death and was taken to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office for processing. He was then returned to the Cook Building at Central State Hospital, according to the GBI.

David Noel, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Human Resources which operates Central State Hospital, said the Cook building is a maximum security forensics facility for people in the criminal justice system.

For example, defendants deemed incompetent to stand trial are housed in the Cook Building, he said.

“It is a secure facility,” Noel said, adding the facility meets all federal and state requirements for operating a forensics facility.

He said an internal investigation has been launched in connection with Yates’ death.

Yates’ death follows a federal investigation that ended in May 2008 with the U.S. Justice Department citing Georgia’s “unabated” failure to address dangerous conditions in state mental hospitals that have caused preventable deaths, injuries and illnesses.

The state reached a settlement with the federal government in January to improve conditions, including patient safety, according to a Department of Justice news release.

Investigations by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution concluded that abuse, neglect and poor medical care contributed to 136 patient deaths in state mental hospitals from 2002 to 2007.

Court records show Yates had been deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial for pending criminal charges in Houston County.

Houston County District Attorney Kelly Burke said Yates was involved in 11 criminal cases dating back to 1999 in Houston County.

“We have a long history with Mr. Yates,” he said.

Most of the cases were burglaries and thefts, generally involving neighbors and family members, Burke said.

Most recently, Yates was charged with stalking, terroristic threats, impersonating an officer and theft Jan. 7, 2007, according to District Attorney’s Office records.

March 23, 2007, a judge signed an order for Yates to be evaluated at Central State Hospital, said Joshua Morrison, a Houston County assistant district attorney.

“It was determined that he was not able to understand the charges against him,” Morrison said.

A court order issued Feb. 26, 2008, required that Yates be re-evaluated every 90 days to determine his competency, Morrison said.

Since his Jan. 2007 arrest, Yates had been in and out of the Houston County jail and Central State Hospital.

As of Feb. 3, 2009, he had served 765 days in the county jail, Morrison said.

It’s unclear how long Yates had been at Central State Hospital before he was killed Sunday.

Taka Wiley, a spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Human Resources, said she couldn’t comment on details of Yates’ treatment at Central State Hospital.

Central State Hospital is the largest and oldest of Georgia’s facilities for the mentally ill or developmentally disabled. It opened in 1842 as the State Asylum for the Insane.

Information from The Associated Press was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.