Man accused of gouging out woman’s eye freed
RIVERTON — The man accused of gouging out a woman’s eye on Thanksgiving Day at Lander SageWest Health Care has been released from the Wyoming State Hospital, back into the community under the care of his wife.
The victim of the attack, Elaine Tillman of Fort Washakie, died on Dec. 9, 2020, 13 days after the incident. The attack sparked a lawsuit in federal court, in which SageWest on Tuesday denied any guilt in the matter.
Patrick Lee Rose, who was born in 1967, has, according to a June 25 order by Lander Circuit Court Judge Robert Denhardt, been released to the care of his wife on a personal recognizance bond.
“He shall remain in his wife’s care as long as this action is ongoing,” Denhardt wrote, adding that Rose is “not fit (mentally) to proceed” with prosecution as of June 25.
The order is the most recent in Rose’s court file.
Rose was charged last autumn with aggravated assault in Lander Circuit Court, but Denhardt ruled that Rose “cannot be restored to competency, not due to a treatable mental condition, but rather due to a traumatic brain injury suffered by the defendant several years ago.”
Rose’s attorney paused the prosecution in December of 2020, citing an acquired brain injury of 18 years. because Rose cannot be restored to competency, he cannot be prosecuted criminally for the alleged gouging or the resultant death.
Witnesses said that on Nov. 26, 2020, Rose left his room, entered Tillman’s room, gouged out one of her eyes, and severely damaged the other eye before hospital employees pulled him off her. An eyeball was found on the floor.
The July 19 lawsuit was brought by Tillman’s daughters, June Louise Tillman and Cathy Ann Lucas. They wrote in their lawsuit complaint that Rose had “dangerous and violent proclivities (which) were known or should have been known” by hospital personnel.
Tillman’s and Rose’s rooms, the hospital said, were “next to each other,” not “across the hall,” as the lawsuit had alleged. Rose had been in the hospital for about 32 hours.
“It had been known for more than a year that SageWest Health Care (Lander) had grossly insufficient supervision and monitoring of its psychiatric patients,” the complaint reads, adding that community complaints did nothing to redirect the hospital’s resources toward fortified safety surrounding such patients.
In response, SageWest asked the federal court to dismiss the Tillman daughters’ complaint altogether and enter judgment in favor of the hospital, against the plaintiffs, and allow SageWest to recover its suit costs and “other and further relief.”
“The tortious conduct of other persons… not associated with SageWest is not attributable to SageWest, and SageWest is not legally liable for those persons’… negligence,” reads the response, which was drafted through Casper attorney Patrick J. Murphy, of Williams, Poter, Day & Neville P.C.
The hospital averred further that hospital staff “complied with their applicable duty of care to Mrs. Tillman,” and that “Mrs. Tillman’s death was caused by the sudden, unexpected and unforeseeable actions of the one who assaulted her.”
“SageWest is not a jail and does not handcuff or leg shackle patients,” the suit continues, claiming that Rose had no criminal history and no known prior psychiatric hospitalization.
Rose’s criminal record reflects only minor prior infractions, such as fishing without a license.
Tillman’s autopsy was issued in Utah, because she was life-flighted to emergency care at the university of utah after the attack. Her autopsy was withheld from the public for months, due to utah’s autopsy privacy laws. Released in May of this year, the document lists her cause of death as homicide.