KARACHI (ENNS/MD) Hilman Jordan was let out of a D.C. mental hospital 17 years after shooting a man. Now he is accused of killing again.
Nafisa Hoodbhoy talks about her husband as she packs up the condo she shared with him. “He was my everything,” she says.
Javed Bhutto, a caregiver to mentally disabled adults, got home from work about 11 that morning with bags of groceries in his Toyota Corolla. After his overnight shift at a residential facility, he had stopped in a supermarket with a list from his wife.
In the parking lot of the small condo complex where the couple lived, he stepped out of his car in the chill March air, opened the trunk and reached for his bundles.
A man identified by D.C. police as Hilman Jordan — who had killed before for no sane reason and was locked in psychiatric wards for 17 years — walked up behind Bhutto, pulling a 9mm semiautomatic from a pocket of his coat. spreading his feet in a combat stance, he aimed the weapon with a two-handed grip at close range. Bhutto, leaning into the trunk, didn’t see him coming.
Although they were neighbors in City View Condos, in Southeast Washington, the two were barely acquainted. Bhutto, a few days shy of his 64th birthday, was a former philosophy professor in Pakistan who found a new career in his adoptive country, working in group homes.
Jordan, 45, acquitted by reason of insanity in an unprovoked fatal shooting in 1998, had been released from St. Elizabeths Hospital and was renting a condo largely at taxpayer expense.
The first slug whizzed past Bhutto, striking the Toyota, and he spun around aghast, holding up his hands. The attacker tried to squeeze off another round, but the Smith & Wesson jammed.
He racked the slide again and again, ejecting unspent cartridges onto the pavement, as Bhutto ran, arms flailing, toward the parking lot gate. The gunman caught him there, pistol-whipped him until he fell, kicked him twice in the head and fired a bullet into his heart.
His alleged killer, a neighbor, had been declared not guilty by reason of insanity in a 1998 homicide.
Now the victim’s widow, Nafisa Hoodbhoy, 63, angrily wonders why the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, legally obligated to monitor Jordan, wasn’t also required to warn City View residents that he was a St. Elizabeths outpatient with a homicidal history. as echoing others, she questions why Jordan was allowed to remain free despite what neighbors say was his chronic pot smoking — a trigger for his psychotic delusions and a violation of his court-approved release terms.
After Bhutto was shot to death March 1, detectives say, they saw Jordan sitting calmly on his balcony overlooking the crime scene, his right shoe stained with blood. They say they found a 9mm Smith & Wesson and a marijuana joint in the condo.
“Someone didn’t do their job, obviously,” Hoodbhoy, a journalist, says bitterly. “Someone who should have been watching this insane murderer didn’t do their job.”
Schizophrenia and paranoia had driven Jordan to kill years earlier. The court order authorizing his release from hospital confinement in 2015 required Behavioral Health staffers to screen his urine regularly for traces of intoxicants, and a failed test was supposed to land him back in St. Elizabeths immediately.
Yet he rapped about pot use in YouTube videos that show him with apparent marijuana joints on his balcony, his eyes narrowing as he smokes. Neighbors say he would sit outside getting high for hours.
Seven weeks before the shooting, Bhutto, who lived directly above Jordan, complained to Jordan’s landlord about the persistent odor of marijuana coming from downstairs, and the landlord says he warned Jordan that Bhutto was upset. After the killing, a prosecutor said in court, Jordan “tested positive for PCP,” or phencyclidine, a powerful hallucinogen. The drug, often mixed with marijuana, can induce frenzied aggression, especially in users who are prone to violence.
Jordan, about 5-foot-10 and heavyset with graying whiskers, also was forbidden to have a firearm; how he allegedly got one isn’t publicly known.
Citing privacy rules, the Behavioral Health agency, which pushed for Jordan’s release in 2015, won’t comment on his mental state then or discuss details of its supervision of him at the condo complex.
The agency’s chief of staff, Phyllis Jones, says records show Jordan “was in compliance with the conditions of his discharge,” but she adds, “An internal review is ongoing.”
Six months after the shooting, the internal review still isn’t finished, Jones says.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s office also won’t comment on Jordan, referring questions to mental-health authorities. In D.C. Superior Court, though, Judge Milton C. Lee Jr. made his opinion clear at a June hearing.
Rather than return Jordan to St. Elizabeths, which is run by Behavioral Health, Lee ordered him jailed while he awaits a trial on a first-degree murder charge.
“I have no faith whatsoever” that the agency and hospital “will do what is necessary to keep you consistent with your treatment and to monitor you in a way that will protect the community,” the judge said, staring down at the shackled Jordan, who has yet to enter a plea in the killing. “It appears in this regard they have failed, and I’m not going to give them another opportunity.”
Born in 1973, Hilman Ray Jordan was raised in Silver Spring, Md., the second-youngest of eight siblings, according to a St. Elizabeths report. His stepfather was a custodian, and his mother stayed home with her children. “Mr. Jordan does not have a history of severe misconduct or any psychological disorder” as a child or adolescent, the report said.
His psychiatric treatment over the years is described in hundreds of pages of clinical documents filed in Superior Court.
After finishing high school, Jordan worked in landscaping and construction. In April 1998, he lost his maintenance job at a hotel. Struggling to get by, he moved back in with his mother and stepfather in their rented townhouse.
The onset of his psychoses that spring, weeks before his 25th birthday, was swift and devastating, a report said: He lost his appetite and 25 pounds; he showered 10 times a day; he became increasingly agitated and fearful — a recluse who hardly slept — thinking strangers planned to kill him; he “believed messages were being sent to him from the television”; he “heard voices in his head . . . being critical of him”; he pummeled a punching bag in the townhouse for hours at a stretch.
Alpern said Jordan should be declared not guilty by reason of insanity and, like any insanity acquittee in the District, he should continue receiving treatment at St. Elizabeths until he was deemed safe enough to be released, as the law requires.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, which handles both federal and local criminal cases, waited to review more in-depth mental evaluations of Jordan before deciding how to proceed.
Insanity-defense laws vary among U.S. jurisdictions. In D.C. Superior Court, as in about 20 states, a defendant is entitled to acquittal if he proves that during the offense, he “lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law” because of mental illness.
In the eyes of the justice system, he was innocent of any crime, and the hospital’s job was to reduce his psychotic symptoms until the law considered him fit to be released.
Marc Dalton, chief clinical officer for the Department of Behavioral Health, says he and his staff are barred by law from commenting on specific cases.
Kennedy wrote that she was “perplexed” by the proposed furloughs. However, she faced the fact that she would probably lose a court fight to keep Jordan confined, given the low legal threshold for an acquittee to gain released.
(Courtesy: Washington Post)