Brain-dead inmate denied early release

STOCKTON – A judge Monday blocked the compassionate release of Jackson Phaysaleum, a brain-dead inmate from Stockton, saying it would have been the first of its kind granted in California.

San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Terrence Van Oss said in an earlier hearing that he was inclined to release Phaysaleum from his sentence of 46 years to life for gunning down a pair of men in a 2004 street fight.

Van Oss had said it was too costly to have the inmate guarded around the clock by correctional officers when he didn’t pose a threat to society. A cellmate beat Phaysaleum last year, and doctors said he is not expected to regain consciousness.

But Van Oss reversed himself Monday, saying he feared that if the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were not caring for the inmate, the cost would fall to San Joaquin County.

“Being a taxpayer like all of the rest of the taxpayers, I would like to see the state operate as efficiently as possibly,” Van Oss said. “But that’s not our problem, really.”

Van Oss had sentenced Phaysaleum to state prison for killing Demetrius Silmon, 36, and James Dutye, 46.

After Phaysaleum’s beating, the state Board of Parole Hearings sent his case back to Van Oss. Phaysaleum was eligible for a compassionate release, which is allowed under the law for an incapacitated inmate who poses no public threat.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Thomas Testa opposed the release. San Joaquin County Deputy Public Defender Terry Healey said Monday that he opposed it, too, because the state had no plan for his client since he would be the first released this way.

Stockton’s Rhonda Scofield, the sister of Silmon and sister-in-law of Dutye, said she was relieved by Van Oss’ ruling. Phaysaleum will remain in a hospital in the custody of the state prison system.

“I kind of feel sorry for his parents, because I’m a parent,” Scofield said. “But I don’t feel sorry for him. I mean, he committed a crime. I’m still having nightmares.”



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