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Leonard gets six more months

"Ralph F. Leonard, the Bainbridge liveaboard resident turned shooting suspect, will spend another six months in the bowels of the state's mental health evaluation system.Maybe.Leonard, 63, rearrested last December after his release following a late 1998 armed standoff with police officers aboard his boat, could be released at any time without notice - thanks to the state's secrecy-shrouded commitment process.That's frustrating for Bainbridge Police Lt. Scott Weiss, grazed by a blast from Leonard's shotgun during the Blakely Harbor incident.Weiss, who has been tracking the case ever since, gets what little information he can from a contact he's developed close to the case.If the doctors want, they can let him go and not notify anybody, Weiss said.Leonard's byzantine saga through the county criminal and state civil system began with his arrest in November 1998. From there, he was remanded to Tacoma's Western State Hospital for a series of mental evaluations. When those ran out, Kitsap County had to decide whether to file criminal charges for assault and attempted murder against a man who may not have been competent to stand trial - or remand him to the state for an indefinite period of civil commitment in a treatment facility.Instead, the charges were dropped and Leonard was released - and he returned to his boats, moving them back to Eagle Harbor.County prosecutors eventually re-filed the 1998 charges. Leonard, arrested without incident last December, has spent the majority of that time at Western State. He is out of the hands of the Kitsap County criminal justice system; records show that nothing new has been filed on the case since a January evaluation from a Western State doctor, urging that Leonard remain in a structured environment such as the hospital's.And, for renewable six-month periods - the latest ordered in late September - that's just what's been happening.Nobody has any obligation to keep in touch with me now that he's out of the criminal system, and nobody has, said Tim Kelly, a court-appointed public defender who represented Leonard following both arrests. I don't think they have any intention of prosecuting him.It's the alternative that worries Weiss.They could let him go, and nobody here would ever know, he said. There's no witness-notifcation program, no nothing. "

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