In the early part of 2013, Candida went through another life changing event that triggered another severe manic and psychotic episode. Again, she distanced herself from her family and friends. Candida was under the mindset that we, her parents, were out to harm her. She thought that we were having her followed and that we wanted her dead for the monies from a million dollar life insurance policy on her. We had limited and sporadic contact with Candida during this time and had no idea of where she was or what she was doing. During this manic episode, Candida also began hearing voices and thought everyone was out to harm her. Candida sought medical attention on numerous occasions at several area hospitals and was given psychotropic drugs, and was discharged each time. There were two significant encounters with law enforcement and or medical professionals where opportunities were missed to provide the services Candida required.
On one occasion Candida was seeking mental and medical treatment at a local hospital, Emory-Adventist Hospital in Smyrna, Georgia, due to the difficulty of breathing and mental confusion. She was seen and treated and then asked to leave the hospital grounds. Candida, who has a history of severe allergic reactions to pollen, refused to wait outside because the pollen count was really high that day. The hospital security was called and Candida was tasered and lost consciousness. She then had to be admitted back into the hospital’s E.R. and then to the I.C.U. Clearly, if the hospital physician felt that it was in Candida’s best “medical” interest to prescribe psychotropic drugs to her, he or she should have ordered that Candida remained in the hospital overnight for observation due to a possible adverse reaction to the psychotropic drugs.
The most profound and outrageous missed opportunity for getting Candida the mental health treatment she required, occurred when she was experiencing extreme mental confusion and was found floating in a community lake fully clothed. When the city of Smyrna’s law enforcement officers arrived at the scene they arrested Candida for loitering and prowling. Candida informed the officers that she was having a mental illness crisis to the extent she was hearing voices. She requested to be sent to the hospital for a mental evaluation. Once Candida arrives at the Smyrna city jail for processing, the officers noticed she was displaying abnormal behavior and requested and received approval to transport Candida to Wellstar Hospital for further evaluation. Once at the hospital Candida was examined by nurses and the E.R. physician. The E.R. physician noted on Candida’s chart that she was bipolar and that she was in a manic and psychotic state of mind. The mental health L.P.C also wrote a referral for Candida to be transported to Highland Rivers, a mental health crisis center, for further evaluation and treatment. Finally, Candida was going to get the treatment she needed and was entitled to. While Candida laid in bed, handcuffed to the bed railing, waiting to be transported to the crisis center. Unfortunately once the Psychiatric Department Chief, Dr. Adam Meadows, came onto the floor and canceled the transport referral. It was later revealed in court that Dr. Meadows canceled Candida’s transport referral without reading her medical or mental history, without conducting a mental health evaluation of his own, and without consulting any of the other medical health professionals that had come in contact with Candida during the over 8 hours she was at the hospital. It seems that Dr. Meadows’s decision to deny Candida treatment was based on his visual opinion of Candida, as his comments were “she’s was Malingering and on drugs, so discharge her back to jail”. Yes, this opportunity to for Candida to receive the mental health intervention she so desperately needed and had been seeking was missed. Candida’s referral was voided and she was sent back to the local city jail.
While Candida was being held in the Smyrna city jail we, her parents, called several mental health intervention agencies seeking help for Candida. Of all the agencies we contacted only one of them, Georgia Crisis Center, agreed to come to the Smyrna jail and intervene with Candida. However, once we informed the desk Sergeant that the Georgia Crisis Center agreed to provide some intervention, the desk Sergeant informed us that outside intervention could not be authorized because Candida wasn’t in a current crisis. And yes, Candida remained in jail and shortly thereafter was released as all charges were dropped.
On May 31, 2013, while in a full blown psychosis and manic state of mind, which included hearing voices, Candida drove to and sought refuge in the parking lot of the county sheriff’s office parking lot thinking she was safe there. Parked and still hearing voices, she turned up her radio to drown out the voices. Candida was approached by the Sheriff deputies twice unknowingly to them she was in a state of psychosis, she heard what she believed to be gunshots, she thought they were coming to harm her, and people were firing shots at her. Moments later in a panic, Candida drove off trying to get out of the way, hitting one deputy and causing a second to dive out of the path of Candida’s automobile. One deputy sustained a fractured her leg and the second deputy sustained scrapes and bruises. Today both officers have recovered from their injuries and have returned to duty. Each officer also received insurance settlement of $100,000 from Candida’s automobile insurance carrier.
Candida was arrested at the scene and indicted by a Cobb County grand jury in June of 2013 on 13 counts, including two counts each of malice murder, malice hit-and-run, criminal damage to property in the first degree and aggravated assault on a police officer, and one count each of aggravated battery, fleeing from police and interference with government property. Tried and convicted of all charges with a verdict of “Guilty “BUT” Mentally Ill. During the sentencing phase of the trail, Candida’s lawyer informed the court that we, Candida’s parents, had petitioned the court to give us full guardianship of Candida so we could get her the mental help she needed. Further, that we had a hearing scheduled before a probate judge and were waiting on the date. Candida’s lawyers asked the criminal judge to delay his decision on sentencing until the probate judge’s decision was made. The criminal judge refused the request and sentenced Candida to 31 years in prison and an additional 30 years on probation. A couple of weeks later, December 30, 2014, the probate judge declared Candida Mentally Incapacitated and Rachel Summerlin, Candida’s Mother, was granted “Full Permanent Guardianship” of Candida. We are currently waiting on the appeal process, while Candida is incarcerated in Pulaski State Prison in Hawkinsville, Georgia. Candida is not receiving any mental health counseling or treatment.
Mothers Advocating for America's Mentally Ill