Judge postpones decision on placement of sexually violent predator Mikel Marshall

Marshall may be moved to Jacumba Hot Springs

SAN DIEGO - A judge Monday put off a decision on a proposal to release a sexually violent predator into San Diego County's backcountry until he can personally inspect the home and the area recommended by state officials in Jacumba Hot Springs.

"I want to drive out there and see it for myself," Judge Howard Shore said after listening to county Supervisor Dianne Jacob and community members speak out against placing Mikel Wayne Marshall at a home on Desert Rose Ranch, at least 70 miles from downtown San Diego. "That's the least I can do before making a final decision."

Another hearing is scheduled Jan. 13.

Marshall spent 14 years in prison for molesting four young boys, ages 4-8, between 1992 and 1994. In each case, he was known to the families of the children he assaulted, authorities said.

Marshall, 39, was committed as a sexually violent predator in 2008, and since that time, has participated in the inpatient sex offender treatment program at Coalinga State Hospital.

On Aug. 5, Shore determined that Marshall could be safely released into the community for continued treatment and supervision.

Last month, the Department of State Hospitals proposed placing Marshall at the location on Desert Rose Ranch Road in Jacumba. There are two elementary schools more than two miles away, officials said.

Shore said that for the most part, he's been told that Marshall has been a "model patient" while at Coalinga.

But Jacob said referring Marshall in that way is not only "short-sighted" but "foolish."

"That doesn't mean he's going to be a model citizen when he's let out," the supervisor said.

In recent years, six SVPs have been released into San Diego County, Jacob said. Four have been sent back to the hospital for more treatment after violating terms of their release, and another died, according to the supervisor.

"The law is flawed, the system is broken," Jacob told the judge.

Lorrie Ostrander, who lives in Jacumba, said the backcountry has become a "dumping ground" for sexually violent predators.

"It is just a matter of time before they prey on our youth," Ostrander told the judge.

Ostrander added, "Our children are raised in the backcountry so they can raise farm animals, hike, and most of all, be a kid. But their safety is being jeopardized by another sexual predator."

Resident Chris Noland said, "There's not that feeling of safety anymore with this person being there."

Another Jacumba resident, Danielle Cook, said releasing Marshall to the Desert Rose Ranch site would be an "act of cruelty" to him because there are no recreational, job or treatment opportunities in the area.

Another area resident said the residence where officials propose placing Marshall overlooks a family home where two children live.

Several speakers, including Jacob, said officials should consider placing Marshall at a trailer located on the grounds of Donovan State Prison in southern San Diego, where other SVPs have been sent.

But Alan Spillman of Liberty Healthcare -- which contracts with the state to monitor SVPs after their release -- said a trailer used to house other SVPs is in storage. He said Donovan officials would have to agree to the proposal.

Deputy District Attorney Kristen Spieler said Liberty officials will transport Marshall to all of his appointments when he is relocated. Marshall will also be required to wear a GPS tracking device 24 hours a day.

Deputy Public Defender Michael Ruiz said Marshall has "earned his release" by "actively trying to better himself."

Spillman said his firm has a "long history of working with sexually violent predators."

"We do not take this lightly at all," Spillman said. "We will do our best to make sure they (the residents) are safe."

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