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  • Kelly O
Michael LaRosa, 26, appeared in King County Superior Court this morning to enter a plea on charges that he murdered Joseph LaMagno in broad daylight on a public sidewalk on Nov. 22, using a hatchet.

Before LaRosa could be asked for his plea, however, his public defender requested that LaRosa, a diagnosed schizophrenic who had three cases winding through Seattle's mental health court before the murder, be sent first to Western State Hospital for an evaluation to determine whether he's even competent to stand trial.

The judge agreed, and off LaRosa went, unkempt, solemn, now taking his medication (according to his attorney), and finally getting the involuntary visit to a mental hospital that his brother told me he repeatedly asked for before the murder. During our Nov. 29 interview, LaRosa's brother, Paul Umland asked of no one in particular and everyone in general: “Why don’t you skip the part where someone gets killed, even if you have to lock him up?”

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It's a question people will continue asking, especially if LaRosa is found by Western State to be incompetent. If that happens, a second question will arise: Is this incompetency a new development in LaRosa's mental state, and if not, why did it take so many law violations and interactions with the criminal justice and mental health systems before the extent of his instability was determined?

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  • Kelly O