Commonwealth's attorney talks process leading to conditional releases

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — After spending almost two decades at Western State Hospital in Staunton, a Lyndhurst man was granted conditional release on Tuesday.

Tim Martin said the court receives periodic updates from people in mental hospitals after they've been found not guilty by reason of insanity. | Credit: WHSV

Mark Zawhorodny was charged with the murders of his brother and nephew, but was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Since then, he has been at Western State, with a temporary stay at an assisted living facility which he escaped from in 2015.

Tim Martin, commonwealth's attorney for Augusta County, said when someone is found not guilty by reason of insanity, they go to a mental hospital and the court receives updates about someone's progress. He said if they are improving, there's a possibility for release.

"I think from the court's perspective, that may ultimately be the goal," Martin said. "From the commonwealth's attorney's perspective, my goal is always, my overriding goal is always public safety."

Martin said the process to determine if someone is eligible for conditional release is an involved process.

"A lot of that thought and discussion is by the care providers, who are also public safety, and who make extensive effort to have a plan, a sort of transition plan," said Martin.

Martin said that was the case for Zawhorodny. Experts testified in court yesterday that Zahowodny has been 100% compliant with his medication and the rules for the past five years, and he's had a year's worth of successful weekend passes at a residential facility near Farmville.

With the conditional release, Zawhorodny will live in a secured house near Farmville with constant supervision.