There are two sides to Darryl Wilson.
There's the man known by the congregation of Word Alive Outreach Ministries - a sweet, loving, God-fearing young man who comes in handy when parishioners need help moving furniture, said Pastor Robert Turner.
Then there's the one known by the justice system - the hulking figure allegedly seen beating and pistol-whipping a smaller deputy in a television news clip; the man who reportedly broke another deputy's nose at a downtown strip club in July; the husband who was involved in a 1992 domestic dispute in which he and his pregnant wife were both stabbed; the father of the son subsequently born, relatives said, with cerebral palsy, scoliosis, reactive airway disease and mental retardation.
"We're not trying to excuse what he's done. It was wrong," the Rev. Turner said of the Aug. 10 attack on Richmond County Deputy Shannon Mitchell. "But the public needs to know that he's not just an ordinary criminal. Darryl has a documented mental problem."
Mr. Wilson, 34, has been under treatment at Community Mental Health Center of East Central Georgia dating back at least seven years, according to medical records supplied by his family. He has been prescribed medications typically used to treat schizophrenia and manic depression and others used to offset the effects of anti-psychotic drugs. This year, he has been given Zyprexa, lithium and trihexyphenidyl hydrochloride.
The Augusta Chronicle was unable to determine whether Mr. Wilson has been diagnosed with mental illness.
In March 1998, Mr. Wilson began working part time at the Augusta Youth Development Campus as a juvenile correctional officer. After nine months, he was working full time.
The job requires a high school degree and a clean criminal record and does not entail carrying a firearm, Georgia Juvenile Justice spokeswoman Jaci Vickers said. Until Mr. Wilson was indicted last week on charges of aggravated assault, obstruction of a law enforcement officer, removal of a firearm from a peace officer and other offenses, a background check would have turned up little on him. He was never charged in the stabbing incident.
Citing health problems, Mr. Wilson resigned from the youth jail after a year, according to the center's personnel department. Ms. Vickers said he did not have a disciplinary record.
His pastor said Mr. Wilson's condition makes it tough for him to hold down a job. When medications fail and he loses self-control, he often doesn't remember what happened later, said the pastor, who also is spokesman for the family.
That apparently was not the case after the most recent incident. Mr. Turner said he got a call from Mr. Wilson - who court officials say is at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville - the weekend after his arrest.
"He said, `Pastor, he started handling my hands rough, and he was hurting them, and with my medicine, it was just a bad time for me. I just had a bad time,'" the Rev. Turner said.
With mental health issues raised, District Attorney Danny Craig said the case against Mr. Wilson could go beyond a simple determination of guilty or not guilty.
"The question would be whether the defendant knew what he was doing was wrong, or if he knew what he was doing was wrong but was suffering from a compulsive delusion," Mr. Craig said.
Depending on evidence presented by doctors and defense attorneys, a jury also could declare him not guilty by reason of insanity, or guilty but mentally ill, Mr. Craig said. One verdict could land him in the hands of the Georgia Department of Human Resources, which would evaluate him and possibly send him to a mental hospital. Another could send him to a state penitentiary, where he would receive mental health treatment.
Nationwide, an estimated 670,000 mentally ill people are admitted to jails each year, according to the Center on Crime, Communities and Culture.
The Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles will consider similar issues Tuesday in a hearing to decide whether a stay of execution should be granted for Alexander Williams, 32, who is scheduled to die two days later. His attorneys say he was schizophrenic when he kidnapped, raped, robbed and murdered a 16-year-old Beech Island girl in 1986.
As for Mr. Wilson, he could face at least 75 years in prison if convicted on all counts. However the case is handled, though, his pastor said he'll have the support of his church.
"We're going to stand behind him," the Rev. Turner said. "He's not alone."
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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