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Decatur murder suspect's family says mental health system failed them

The family got a court order to get him committed at a mental health facility, but there were no available beds.

Posted: Jun 15, 2021 12:05 AM
Updated: Jun 15, 2021 9:44 AM

The Decatur grandmother who police say was killed by her grandson was laid to rest Monday afternoon.

Family members of the murder suspect Aaron Brown say her death could have been prevented.

"I'm not saying that what he did was okay by any means, but it was totally preventable if the mental health system took his case seriously," Aaron's cousin Krista Powell said. "If he would have gotten the mental help he needed, this could have all been prevented. She'd still be here, and he could be on the road to recovery. Being back to as close as he could to being back to the Aaron we all love. The Aaron we grew up with, and that we know is hidden in a locked box deep down somewhere inside of him."

Brown's family says they took all the right steps to get him mental help. They got a court order to have him committed to this mental health facility, but were then told there wasn't any room available for him.

"He told her, don't hold your breath because if there isn't a bed available, they ain't going to come get him," Aaron's mother Amanda Powell said.

"So, what did they tell you guys to do?" I asked.

"Nothing," Krista responded.

"There was nothing we could do," Amanda added.

Brown's family felt helpless.

"My brother needs the help that he deserves," Aaron's brother Bradley Teague said.

They filed a petition to get him committed because they feared Aaron would not only hurt himself, but possibly others.

"I felt like I lost my baby. My baby is gone. He's not even my baby anymore," Amanda said.

They were told to wait until a bed freed up at Decatur-Morgan West in order to get Aaron the help he needed.During that time, Aaron stayed with his grandmothers, including Deborah Patterson.

"Everytime we told her, 'You may have to call the law.' She always said she wanted to hold out. I want him to get the mental help," Amanda said.

The family believes he had a mental episode when police say he stabbed Patterson.

"He loved his Nanny Deb. He never would have hurt her, and the fact when he gets to a mental state where he understands what he's done. It's going to wreck him," Krista said.

They add that this could all have been avoided.

"It wasn't on us that this happened. It was on a system that failed him," Krista said.

Now they're calling for justice.

"I don't want him sent off to some prison where he's not going to get the mental help he needs. He needs mental help," Amanda said.

They want to see more mental health facilities and training for officers. They're asking for others impacted by mental health to join in their call for change in order to protect others from going through what they're going through.

"This system is really broken. If you've got loved ones out there who are also hurting, please speak out. Speak out when they're not treated fairly. Speak out so that this can change, so the system can change," Amanda said.

A Morgan County Judge says beds at Decatur-Morgan West are usually full. They only have 10 beds available for adults. There are talks about a new crisis residential unit coming to the area, but it's not expected to happen for another 2 to 3 years.

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