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Man found to be sane at time of Napa State Hospital murder

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Register Staff Writer

A jury of one man and 11 women found Napa State Hospital patient Anthony Gore was sane when he murdered another patient.

The verdict came down Friday afternoon after six hours of deliberation. On Sept. 8, the same jury found Gore, 41, guilty of the first-degree murder of Dennis Wagner, 49. On May 3, 2002, Gore strangled Wagner while he was lying in bed in the room the two of them shared.

The sanity phase of the trial lasted about four days. Testimony was given by expert medical witnesses from both the prosecution and the defense.

Since Gore was found sane and the jury believed he knew the difference between right and wrong when he killed Wagner, he will be facing 25 years to life is state prison. He scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 26.

He initially will be sent to San Quentin Prison. "They will evaluate him there, and if they believe he will not be able to cope in prison, he could be sent to a state mental facility where he will be treated as a sentenced prisoner," said deputy district attorney Gary Van Camp, who prosecuted the case.

"But I think Mr. Gore is where he wants to be. He said he didn't want to be in a hospital any longer. He wanted to go to prison. He said he was a felon between crimes."

During the sanity phase of the trial, it was the defense's job to prove Gore was legally insane at the time of the homicide.

"We put on two expert witnesses who both testified Gore was sane. The defense put on one witness. Gore lied about how he the blood got on him, saying he fell in the courtyard the day before, which showed he was trying to cover up what he did."

Both the defense and prosecution expert witnesses diagnosed Gore as schizophrenic, paranoid, displaying psychotic behavior and having a long history of substance abuse.

During the trial, Van Camp said Gore strangled Wagner over an unpaid drug debt.

Calls to defense attorney Merv Lernhart were not returned.

The day of the murder, Wagner was found dead in his bed around 8 a.m. by another patient, who notified hospital staff.

Gore, who was in the same room, was lying on his bed. Gore was escorted by hospital staff to a secluded room.

Staff found blood on Gore's clothing and a cut on his hand.

Both Gore and Wagner were admitted to the hospital on a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity from prior incidents. Gore has been at Napa State since January 2000 and Wagner had been there since December 1998.



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