Crime

Man who killed 2 sisters in Santa Margarita in 2010 is committed to Atascadero State Hospital

Andrew Downs, 20, of Atascadero was arrested Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010, on suspicion of murder. Original story »
Andrew Downs, 20, of Atascadero was arrested Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010, on suspicion of murder. Original story »

The man found to be insane when he murdered two women on Christmas Day 2010 was committed to Atascadero State Hospital on Tuesday.

Andrew Downs, 21, was committed by Judge John Trice in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to receive his treatment at the state mental health facility.

By finding him not guilty by reason of insanity, Trice ruled that Downs shot Beverly Reilly and Kathy Yeager to death in Santa Margarita, but he was legally insane at the time, and he didn’t know right from wrong.

Matthew Guerrero, Downs’ lawyer, said Tuesday that his client can petition for release while being treated at Atascadero State Hospital, but that’s only if doctors determine that he’s able to function in society. Otherwise, Trice’s ruling means that Downs will spend the rest of his life at ASH.

Downs, a schizophrenic, had a history of mental health episodes leading up to the shootings of the two sisters, including delusions that an evil government was taking over the world and he was among the remaining innocent.

The trial ended with family members of the victims hugging and crying after an emotional case. Downs’ family also huddled and hugged.

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