JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- A court ruling Friday allows a man who shot and injured two middle school students five years ago to return to the community.
Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood has been confined to the state mental hospital since his trial in 2011.
A prosecutor in Jefferson County court objected to Eastwood’s motion he be allowed supervised visits into the community. But a judge granted Eastwood’s motion. It’s a first step that could eventually lead to his total freedom.
On February 23, 2010 terror gripped the teenagers and teachers outside Deer Creek Middle School in Littleton.
“Words cannot express how remorseful I am about my reactions,” Eastwood told the court during his trial in 2011.
A judge sent him off to the state’s mental hospital in Pueblo, where he’s been for more than three years. Now, he wants a little freedom.
“So he asked the judge to allow him to leave the hospital in a supervised setting for short trips, to go shopping, and also to go out to dinner,” says legal analyst David Beller.
At the time, a jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity.
It is the same plea made by Aurora theater shooterJames Holmes.
And technically if he’s found not guilty by reason of insanity, he’d have the same rights as Eastwood to ask for release.
But Beller isn’t worried about it.
“It’s really not realistic that Mr. Holmes would ever be given any freedoms, even though it’s legally possible. There is no judge out there that would ever find it appropriate to be released into the community,” Beller said.
He likens Holmes case to that of John Hinkley Jr. who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
“Hinkley, 30 years after the fact, is actually still incarcerated, and Hinkley is a good example. He was given certain freedoms. He’s allowed see his family, but 30 years later, he’s still in custody. And with Hinkley, no one died. With Holmes 12 people died. There is a big distinction,” said Beller.
He said the judge’s ruling shows he does not consider Eastwood a danger to the community. But Eastwood will be within eyesight of a state mental hospital staff person at all times.