Town Square

Walgreens arsonist gets 20-year sentence

Original post made on May 24, 2013

A man who was convicted of setting a fire in 2007 that destroyed a Palo Alto Walgreens store was sentenced 20 years in prison by a federal judge on Wednesday, May 22.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 23, 2013, 6:52 PM


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Posted by Ripe?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on May 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

"... in part because the case was not ripe for review until he was sentenced."


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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Good God, this was going on 10 years ago ... and this is only being resolved now? Why?

> Donald Ray Williams, 51, was ordered to pay $28.6 million in restitution

OK, Mr. Williams, get out your checkbook, that'll teach you!

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Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 24, 2013 at 12:10 pm

> Dondershine said her goal has been to restore her client's mental health and rehabilitate him. Williams has suffered from inadequately treated bipolar disorder with psychotic episodes since age 26, Dondershine said.

You know, when you consider how much these people cost us and how much security must be increased to prevent a nut from causing massive damage to many people ... I'd bet someone, maybe even a Republican, could put together a case that closing the mental hospitals and cutting treatment or quarantining them from society while they are judged irrational or dangerous was penny wise and pound foolish.

How much has this guy cost the state? 26 million, and how much in court time and prison administration?

Having our police constantly dealing with these recurring nuts that are allowed to walk among us also puts stress and strain and them and changes their modes of dealing with people when all they see are crazies. I am sure they are less able, willing and patient to deal with those in between people who never hurt anyone but just get classed in with all the other dangerous nuts.

Really look at cost/benefit and doing the actual work instead of just hand-waving and demonizing everything government does or did makes sense.

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Posted by That'll be the Day
a resident of Community Center
on May 24, 2013 at 12:11 pm

The man is clearly not in his right mind. Isn't any sort of mental treatment or cou selling part of his sentencing?

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Posted by concerned citizen
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

As the facts of this case came to light, I realized once that I passed the back alley of Walgreens and saw this fellow climbing up the building - some time before it burned down. And I am sure I am not the only one who saw this.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Menlo Park
on May 24, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I agree with CrescentParkAnon.
An article from the NYT in 1984 looked into what went into the decision to release mental patients back into society, beginning with the statement: "THE policy that led to the release of most of the nation's mentally ill patients from the hospital to the community is now widely regarded as a major failure. Sweeping critiques of the policy, notably the recent report of the American Psychiatric Association, have spread the blame everywhere, faulting politicians, civil libertarian lawyers and psychiatrists. "

Web Link

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Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Stanford
on May 24, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Dondershine's a pretty good attorney. It it nice to read that this mentally ill man had good representation and that he's doing well on whatever regimen has been working for him. Sometimes one can get lucky after arrest and get some help. If he's BPD1 there are some decent meds available, not just lithium. Stanford has a terrific BPD clinic - I don't know if they help the incarcerated, though.

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Posted by lol
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on May 27, 2013 at 12:57 pm


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Posted by RandallMcMurphy
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Hmm, from the looks of him I suspect Donald Ray is not going to pay back that $28.6 mil in resto...