Cane Lee Madden, a Kentucky man, was arrested for beating an 8-year-old Black girl over the head with a shovel, fracturing her skull, stealing her iPad and sexually assaulting her.
But a judge this month ruled that he was mentally unfit to stand trial for the rape, assault and robbery charges stemming from the vicious 2019 attack, according to The Associated Press.
Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Annie O’Connell made the ruling in a March 11 court order, determining Madden is “incompetent and unlikely to regain competency in the foreseeable future.” She ordered the charges in his criminal indictment be dismissed, a requirement of state law when a defendant is declared mentally unfit.
O’Connell is the same judge who found Madden, 31, incompetent to stand trial in a separate case in 2018. According to Louisville TV station WDRB, he was accused of raping a woman in 2017 and biting a chunk of her face off.
As the Fox affiliate reported, Madden smeared feces on the walls of a psychiatric hospital, spelling out “I will kill her,” threatened to harm children and animals, and warned that he would rape the first female he encountered. When a psychiatrist testified to Madden’s worrisome behavior in court, O’Connell called him “a danger to himself and others” and ordered that he be hospitalized.
But Madden didn’t meet the state’s standards for involuntary hospitalization. Kentucky law mandates that people can be held against their will only if they stand to benefit from psychiatric treatment. That’s the case even if they’re mentally ill or dangerous. And hospitalization has to be the least restrictive option available to defendants.
WDRB highlighted the “crazy loophole” in a 2019 special report. In February, state Sen. Morgan McGarvey co-sponsored a senate bill to close the loophole by amending state law so that criminal defendants deemed unfit for trial can be committed involuntarily.
“It’s something I think we can fix here that can help there,” McGarvey said in a March 12 speech on the Senate floor. “Does this happen all the time? No. But when it does happen, it can have disastrous consequences.”
Senators failed to have a hearing on McGarvey’s bill, so lawmakers in the House of Representatives took the mantle, adding the language of the measure as an amendment to an existing House bill. State reps passed the bill overwhelmingly on March 15. It’s expected to go before the Senate for a vote by March 30.
Madden was hospitalized for a short time after O’Connell’s 2018 order, but he was ultimately released from custody because he didn’t fit the criteria. He was arrested again after breaking into a business in May 2019, but a judge dismissed that case as well, citing his mental competency.
Madden was remanded to a state hospital in Louisville, but yet again he was released shortly after his arrival.
His alleged assault of the 8-year-old girl happened less than 24 hours later. The brutal attack happened in Louisville’s California neighborhood in August 2019. The child was beaten and raped in broad daylight in her grandmother’s yard. WDRB reported that he confessed to Louisville Metropolitan Police Department investigators.
“The neighborhood is hot,” community activist Yolanda Walker told WDRB at the time. “I don’t know if you want to put it on the news, but I’d like to see him castrated.”
Dr. Timothy Allen, a psychiatrist from the Kentucky Correctional Psychiatric Center, testified last month that Madden was actually mentally competent, news reports from WDRB indicate. Allen said Madden figured out how to “manipulate the system” from years of institutional stays. He suggested the aim of Madden’s eccentric behavior was to elicit a reaction from caretakers.
But University of Louisville psychiatrist Dr. Allan Josephson, testifying on Madden’s behalf, said it would be “virtually impossible” for Madden to work with his defense attorneys. He cited severe mental disorders and said Madden showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder from being abused as a child. O’Connell ruled in his favor.
“He has a revolving door when he goes to court,” said Walker, director of the California Neighborhood Leadership Council. “Whatever he does next, I just feel like [the judge has] blood on her hands.”
Court records show Madden is slated to appear for an April 1 hearing to determine if he’ll be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility stemming from the child’s rape.
But many of his former neighbors worry that he will walk away scot-free again. De’Nita Wright started a change.org petition last year on behalf of the neighborhood where the 2019 attack occurred. More than 5,600 people had signed the petition by Tuesday to keep Madden in custody.
“WHY WAS HIS RIGHT TO WALK THE STREETS ‘AGAIN’ EVER CONSIDERED MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE COMMUNITY’S CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HAVE SAFE AND HEALTHY NEIGHBORHOODS,” it said. “CHILDREN SHOULD BE SAFE IN THEIR OWN BACK YARDS! INSTEAD WE HAVE A SEVERELY ABUSED CHILD WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME.”