BLOOMINGTON — A Bloomington man held in state mental health facilities since he was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 2009 beating death of his daughter will have to wait awhile longer for his transfer to a group home.

Thomas Meece testified Thursday that he first learned of the delay in his transfer plans when he met with his lawyer, Hal Jennings, before the hearing. According to Jennings, the report from Elgin Mental Health Center staff was the first negative review Meece has received in years.

Meece was placed in state care after the 2010 insanity ruling related to the death of Erika Meece, who was 14 months old when she was beaten to death by her father wielding a baseball bat at their home in the 600 block of South Madison Street. Her father was outside the home when police arrived in response to calls of a man swinging a baseball bat.  

The June 14 report from Elgin cited irritability and a lack of patience displayed by Meece, conditions he said were related to his anxiety over the pending move.

"They said I was being anxious for asking twice in one week" about the transfer, Meece told Judge Robert Freitag.

When asked about the negative report, Meece said "this one almost made me cry."

The judge continued the hearing on Meece's petition for conditional release to Aug. 30.

In another matter, the judge turned down Meece's request to attend support group meetings at an Elgin church. Meece previously was given permission to travel off the hospital campus with staff.

Assistant State's Attorney Jacob Harlow objected to the request, saying the meetings would amount to unsupervised release because Meece would be accompanied by a support group member and not a hospital staff member.

In his argument, Jennings characterized the request as a "very minor step down" in Meece's treatment plan. Meece has progressed "from an absolute psychotic state to participating in every program available" at the facility, said Jennings.

In his ruling, Freitag said he considered Meece's recent setback "a minor negative change." But the judge declined to approve unsupervised off-grounds privileges without input from the Department of Human Services. 

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Contact Edith Brady-Lunny at (309) 820-3276. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_blunny


McLean County Courts Reporter

McLean County courts reporter for The Pantagraph.

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