A man charged with murder in the shooting of a teen on a porch was taken to a Lexington mental hospital a week prior because he was suicidal, police said.
On Jan. 31, police negotiated with 21-year-old Morgan Taylor Johnson to coax him out of a home on Squires Woods Way and take him to Eastern State Hospital, Police Sgt. Jervis Middleton said. Officers had responded to a report of a suicidal man, he said.
Less than a week later, on Tuesday, police negotiated with Johnson for a few hours to get him out of the same home after he allegedly attacked a woman and shot to death 19-year-old Christopher Spencer outside the home about 10 p.m.
Johnson is being held in the Fayette County jail on charges of murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery. He knew both victims, police said.
The violence allegedly started when Johnson kidnapped the woman from another location and took her to the Squires Woods Way home and raped her, according to court records.
Eastern State Hospital does not release information on specific patients or cases, so it is unclear if Johnson was admitted and when Johnson was released after police took him to the psychiatric facility Jan. 31.
The hospital can hold a person involuntarily if he presents a danger or threat of danger to himself or others because of mental illness and can “reasonably benefit” from treatment in cases where hospitalization is the least restrictive treatment available, according to Kentucky law the hospital cited.
In general, hospital policy states that a person who is brought in by law enforcement is evaluated by a “qualified” mental health professional from the Bluegrass.org agency. If the person meets the criteria for being admitted involuntarily, another Eastern State evaluation occurs, University of Kentucky spokeswoman Kristi Willett said. The psychiatric hospital is run by UK. (Bluegrass.org also works with the Fayette County jail to provide mental heath treatment and reduce the risk of suicide.)
If a person doesn’t meet the criteria, he is released, Willett said.
Once admitted, the length of a patient’s stay depends on the patient’s “legal status” and the assessment of the patient’s condition by a physician, Willett said.
Johnson is being held on a $250,000 bond, according to the Fayette County jail website. He is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on Monday.