(Stillwater, Okla.) — A Stillwater man with severe mental illness, who was found legally competent to plead guilty to second-degree murder, has been given a life prison term for choking his friend to death at Sequoyah Group Homes where they were living with others on Jan. 4, 2017.
Justin Taylor Bean, 24, was described at his sentencing last week by District Attorney Laura Thomas as “a child who did not have a chance — it was all over for him at age 2.”
“There’s not a miraculous cure. The public needs to be protected from him forever,” the DA said in asking that Bean be given at least a 70-year prison term.
“Mr. Bean is a product of Oklahoma’s horrible, horrible mental health system,” District Judge Phillip Corley said in court before sentencing Bean to life in prison — which he told him “gives you an opportunity to eventually attain parole.”
Bean would be about 63 before being eligible for parole since a life prison term in Oklahoma is considered 45 years, of which 38.6 years must be served before release is possible, Assistant District Attorney Kevin Etherington said.
The judge told the heavily-sedated Bean in court, “I wish there was some place you could have been housed. You did kill your friend with your bare hands.”
Defense attorney Virginia Banks, who asked that Bean be given a sentence of 15 to 20 years, said “Justin Bean was given a life sentence at the time of his birth. He was removed from home at the age of two.
“He is dangerous when he’s not on his medicine,” but has not caused any problems in the Payne County Jail where he has been held for almost two years, Banks noted.
“We have a good jail here, a good psychologist. He is able to maintain when he’s on the right medication. He had not had his medication that day.
“This is a young man who is a victim of the system. I’d like to think the system will get better. He is aware what he did was wrong,” the defense attorney said.
The DA said, “There are thousands of people with mental illness who do not kill…He should have never been in this group home,” since his diagnoses are not recoverable.
According to a pre-sentencing report by state Department of Corrections assessor Dee Miller, Bean “has been in the custody of the Department of Human Services since the age of four. Bean has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, reactive attachment disorder, PTSD, mood disorder and impulsive disorder.”
“Bean has had multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and over 40 residential placements. His medications have been adjusted multiple times with the purpose to stabilize his aggressive physical and verbal behaviors. Throughout Bean’s lifetime, the same behaviors have continued to be repeated and have increased in aggressive verbal and physical outbursts,” the report said.
Bean told her, “I think that I should go to prison for 15 years. I am sorry for what I did. I wish it was me instead of him. We were good friends.”
Bean said, “I am okay while I’m on my meds. If I am not on meds, I can’t control myself. I get very angry and lose control,” according to the report.
Bean’s birth father was reported to have schizophrenic/multiple personality disorder, and his birth mother was reported to be possibly mentally retarded, the report said. Their parental rights were terminated, the report said.
In court, the DA read a statement from the mother of the victim, Terry Brown, who “had spent 12 years in this group home – the next day, he was scheduled to move into independent living with two others. Terry was not a violent person. My son called me every day.
“To lose a child, especially to murder…it haunts your will to live. We continue to serve our life sentence. My son was a humble, quiet loving young man.”