Less than two years after Teresa Lynn was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the murder of her mother-in-law and the blinding of her husband, her treatment team at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo was already pushing for her to have more privileges, including trips off campus.
The ordeal faced by her husband, Peter Spitz, since the 2004 shootings is the subject of this week's cover story, "Blindsided."
Spitz testified on his wife's behalf at trial, insisting that she had to be mentally ill to commit such a savage act. Over the past five years, he's learned a great deal about what happens to criminal defendants once they become patients in the state hospital. His ex-wife (they divorced in 2006) has received generally positive progress reports and appears to be on a fast track back to the streets. Next month, Arapahoe County District Judge Michael Spear will hold a hearing on whether she should be allowed "full temporary physical removal," meaning that she can take trips to Denver and elsewhere unsupervised.
As our cover story explains, Lynn already has more access to her seven-year-old son than his father does. She's become a "peer coach" at the hospital, mentoring other patients, and her doctors don't consider her an escape risk. A 2007 report by members of her treatment team states that she has "no High Intensity Treatment Targets" and is poised for greater privileges, despite the "relatively brief" period of her stay at that point.
The report is full of the psychobabble of the mental health profession and lists an impressive (or baffling, depending on your point of view) battery of therapies Lynn has been subjected to, including Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing "to address past traumatic events she has experienced." But its argument for bringing Lynn back to the community, despite her past violence and acknowledged "bad thoughts" about drowning her son, is ultimately a circular one: "treatment is most effective in reducing recidivism when it occurs in the community."
In other words, she has to be back in society before we can find out if she's ready to be back in society.
To read the three-page 2007 application for an increase in privileges, click on "fullscreen" below.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Video: Peter Spitz tells how his wife shot him in the face while he was asleep."
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.