Local News

Williamson Says He Planned Attack After Stopping Drugs

Posted November 12, 1998

— A mental patient who killed two people, then won a $500,000 malpractice suit against his psychiatrist, said he began practicing for the attack by shooting at trees after he stopped taking his medication.

"I practiced pretty much walking up to trees and shooting them dead, because I thought that's what I'd be doing to people," Wendell Williamson said in a "60 Minutes" interview to be broadcast Sunday. "And I thought they deserved it for what they were doing to me."

Williamson, a former law student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, went on a shooting rampage on Hillsborough Street in 1995.

"I was physically responsible,'' said Williamson, who was found innocent by reason of insanity and is now in a mental hospital.

"I was the one who pulled the trigger. But as far as moral responsibility, I feel that I ... I was doing the best I could with what I had to work with, and that's all that anyone can expect."

In Sept., Williamson was awarded $500,000 in his suit against Dr. Myron Liptzin, who has since retired. Jurors found that Liptzin did not properly refer Williamson to another doctor before his retirement and failed to warn his patient about the severity of his disease.

Liptzin, who has appealed the verdict, said there was "absolutely nothing" he could have done differently. Before he retired, Liptzin prescribed 30 days' worth of an anti-psychotic drug for Williamson and told him to make an appointment to get another psychiatrist.

"Even after I give somebody a prescription, am I bound to go to their apartments or their homes and ask them to present the bottles and show me that they've been taking the medication?" he asked.

Williamson, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, was allowed to stay at Broughton to be closer to his family, which lives near Asheville.

The State and relatives of Williamson's victims believe that he should be moved to the Dorthea Dix Hospital in Raleigh. Dix has a forensic unit that is more secure than Broughton, and it is designed for people with impulse control problems who are prone to violence.

"It's the State's position that Mr. Williamson should be down here in the Dix Forensic Unit along with other patients, who have been sent here by the courts because of incompetency or reason of insanity," said Mark Van Sciver of the N.C. Department of Health & Human Services.

Next month a judge will decide if Williamson gets to stay at Broughton.

The entire Williamson interview will air this Sunday on 60 Minutes on WRAL TV.

From staff and wire reports.


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