Breaking: Milzman to be transferred to in-patient psychiatric program for two weeks
Update, Wednesday, 5:55 pm: Judge Roberts has decided to postpone the decision on whether to release Milzman from D.C. jail to an inpatient psychiatric program at a local hospital, according to a Washington Post reporter. The decision follows the government’s appeal this morning of Judge Facciola’s decision to allow Milzman’s release into his parent’s custody.
Original Post: Daniel Milzman (COL ’16), arrested Friday for possession of ricin, appeared in District court this afternoon for his federal detention hearing, where his attorneys said he intended to use the poison for suicide. The Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola ordered Milzman be sent to Sibley Memorial Hospital for an in-patient psychiatric program for 14 days.
Milzman will remain in the hospital under the custody of his parents, and a report will be sent to the judge after 12 days. Milzman will be released from the hospital two days later and return home to his parents’ residence until the trial.
In the early hours of March 17, Milzman presented a Georgetown RA with a bag of white, powdery substance. An FBI investigation commenced which led to the evacuation of the sixth floor of McCarthy. The investigation concluded with the charging of Milzman for possession of biological toxin.
Milzman’s lawyer, Danny Onorato, spoke about his defendant’s mental instability: “The substance here wasn’t intended for anyone other than himself.” Onorato told how Milzman went to Thomas Lloyd (SFS ’15), a Georgetown RA, to confide in him. According to the detention memo, he told his RA that “making the ricin was the first thing he had done well in a long time.” It is unclear whether the RA mentioned in the court hearing and the memo is Lloyd.
The memo says Milzman told his RA he felt “amoral” making the poison.
“Milzman also told his RA that he had scared himself by having ricin and that he had told his RA about the ricin because part of Milzman wanted to be dared to use it and the other part of Milzman wanted to avoid using it,” the memo reads.
“He was tortured,” Onorato said. “He was having a hard time in his life. He was a scared 19-year-old kid.”
The detention memo says Milzman, after voluntarily waiving his Miranda rights, told FBI agents that he started considering suicide in January 2014 and that his depression, which he had been suffering from since high school, had worsened.
Onorato said Milzman made ricin because of its deceiving effects on the body: if Milzman were to have gone through with ricin-induced suicide, he believed the symptoms would have appeared to be more like a virus, rather than a suicide attempt.
The memo says he learned about ricin in Quiz Bowl and from “one of his favorite television shows, ‘Breaking Bad.'”
Prosecutors preferred that he remain in prison rather than be transferred to his parents’ custody because they believed his intentions with the ricin were potentially malicious.
They cited threatening Facebook messages he had sent another student and an RA’s report.
“Milzman denied being suicidal, and stated that he was ‘definitely a threat to someone,’ but declined to elaborate what he meant,” the memo reads.
Facciola agreed with the defense. After the 24-hour window for appeals has passed, Milzman will be transferred to the hospital by his parents. In the meantime, Milzman will remain under suicide watch in solitary confinement.
Isabel Echarte contributed to this post
Reporting by Jared Kimler
Read the full detention memo below: