Saturday, February 27, 1999

Restrictions on wife's beheader loosened

Tanner still must see psychologist

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Raymond Tanner, left, with his attorney, Greg Howard
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        HAMILTON — Raymond Tanner, who beheaded his wife with a knife nine years ago and was released from a mental institution two years ago, must continue to see his psychologist and his case manager, a Butler County judge ruled Friday.

        Common Pleas Judge H.J. Bressler relaxed the restrictions on Mr. Tanner, but refused to release him from court control.

        Instead of visiting his psychiatrist and case manager every two weeks, Mr. Tanner now has to see them only once a month. He also must undergo tests for drugs and alcohol every three weeks.

        Although Mr. Tanner appears to have adjusted well to life in the community, Judge Bressler said, it would be premature to release him from court control and to allow him to end his psychological treat ment.

        “It's in the interest of the public and also Mr. Tanner that he doesn't have a recurrence of mental illness,” Judge Bressler said.

        Mr. Tanner, dressed in a brown sports coat, tie and blue shirt, said nothing during the hearing except for “Yes, your honor” when the judge asked him if he understood what he was required to do.

        In 1990, Mr. Tanner was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the gruesome slaying of his wife, Maria Tanner, at their Fairfield apartment.

        During his trial, psychiatrists for the prosecution and the defense said that Mr. Tanner was suffering from a paranoid-schizophrenic episode when he killed his wife.

        The episode was caused by a severe depression after the death of his 5-month-old daughter from sudden infant death syndrome, they said. In his paranoid state, he believed his 21-year-old wife was planning to kill him.

        This controversial case has been a focal point for local debate about the insanity plea and public safety. The victim's family members have said they believe Mr. Tanner faked his mental illness and should be in prison.

        The victim's mother, Shirley Cleaver of Xenia, could not be reached for comment on the judge's decision.

        Since the court ordered him released from Dayton's Twin Valley Psychiatric System, Mr. Tanner, 42, has been living in an apartment in Dayton, Ohio, and supports himself with a job as a furniture store delivery man.

        Mr. Tanner's attorneys whisked him out of the courthouse as soon as the 45-minute hearing ended. Mr. Tanner has declined repeatedly to speak with the media.

        Dan Gattermeyer, assistant county prosecutor, said he was pleased with Judge Bressler's ruling.

        “I think it was a correct decision,” he said. “We felt it was too early to release him without any conditions.”

        Judge Bressler said he based his ruling largely on the report of Dr. Phillip Resnick, a Cleveland psychiatrist who examined Mr. Tanner at the request of the court on Feb. 10.

        Greg Howard, one of Mr. Tanner's attorneys, said he was glad Judge Bressler reduced the requirements, but would have preferred the less restrictive conditions Dr. Resnick recommended.

        Dr. Resnick said Mr. Tanner should be required to see his psychologist every two months and should be allowed to stop seeing his case manager.

        Mr. Howard said Mr. Tanner will comply with the restrictions Judge Bressler ordered.

        In Dr. Resnick's report, he said Mr. Tanner is “in full remission” from his mental illness. He said Mr. Tanner “is not a substantial risk of physical harm to others, is not suicidal and can meet his basic physical needs.”

        For the past year, Mr. Tanner has been dating a 28-year-old woman, Dr. Resnick said in his report.

        “When she initially learned about his background of homicide and insanity, she had some fears,” he said, “but she is now quite supportive.”


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