Trebilcock verdict renews interest in proposed confinement bill

By HILARY LANE

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Senator Joe Griffo is proposing a bill to ensure a defendant who is found not criminally responsible for reason of mental disease or defect serves a sentence in a mental health facility equal to the time he or she would have served in jail.

Griffo first introduced this bill in May 2011 but is stepping up efforts now that David Trebilcock, the man found not criminally responsible for brutally murdering 6-year-old Lauren Belius in her Sherrill home, could be released from the Central New York Psychiatric Center in as little as one year.

"It is my philosophic perspective that the people who commit these crimes should serve time, whether it is in a correctional facility or an institution," said Senator Griffo on Tuesday. "They should just know that it is not going to be any easier to get back into society if you plea a certain way."

Griffo says the benefits of this bill are twofold. The defendant would have more time in a mental health facility with access to medicines and treatments while for the victim's families, like the Belius', a sentence served in an institution offers peace of mind.

"We would have had some comfort if he was put away for years," said Allison Belius, mother of the 6-year-old girl who was murdered by Trebilcock. "I don't care if he is in a lockdown facility for mental health or prison. I just want to know that he is not anywhere where he can hurt someone else and he will do that."

Trebilcock will be held at the Central New York Psychiatric Center for a year and then will be re-evaluated. If psychiatrists deem him mentally stable, he will be set free without any type of criminal record. He will continue to be re-evaluated every two years and can be released from the hospital at that time.

Senator Griffo says he hopes this bill passes through the committee and senate by the end of the year.

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