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Driver in fatal Isla Vista car rampage faces competency hearing

May 29, 2012 |  9:38 am

A man who killed four people when he plowed his car into a crowd of pedestrians near UC Santa Barbara in 2001 is due in court Tuesday for a competency hearing to determine if he should be released from a state mental hospital.

David Attias, who was a 20-year-old college student when he drove his turbocharged Saab into the crowd, was convicted of four counts of second-degree murder in June 2002. A week later, the same jury found him legally insane and a judge committed him to Patton State Hospital instead of sending him to prison.

On Tuesday, Attias is to be in Santa Barbara County Superior Court for the start of a four-day hearing to determine if he should continue to be held at the San Bernardino facility. Attias, who had faced at least 50 years in prison, had emotional problems dating to infancy and suffered a psychotic break the night of the rampage, his lawyers argued at the time.

Prosecutors conceded that Attias was mentally ill but contended he knew what he was doing when he sped along streets crowded with weekend party-goers in the college community of Isla Vista. Witnesses described Attias emerging from his car, shouting “I am the angel of death!”

Attias is the son of Daniel Attias, a well-known director whose television credits include “Entourage,” “The Sopranos” and “The Wire.” Parents of some of those killed told KTLA-TV that they planned to attend the hearing, although they did not expect to be allowed to speak at it.

If released, Attias would be placed under 24-hour supervision in a state-run conditional release program, the station reported. Tricia Bourdakis, whose son Nicholas was killed, told KTLA Monday she thinks Attias “is a very dangerous guy.”

“He's never shown any remorse to us,” she said.

Her husband, Tony, said he also believes Attias could harm others if released.

“A lot of people could get hurt,” he said, “so I'm not at all for him getting out.”

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-- Kim Christensen

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