Nevada County jury to decide if Cody Feiler, once charged with murder, is now sane
A man who spent almost an entire decade in treatment after being found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity will face a jury trial to determine whether his sanity has been restored.
Cody Feiler, 39, had been charged with homicide and assault with a deadly weapon in the death of 75-year-old James Turner, who was found unconscious near the Alta Sierra Airport runway on Feb. 10, 2011. Turner sustained serious head trauma and died 12 days later.
During a preliminary hearing into the evidence against Feiler, Nevada County sheriff’s deputies testified that he rambled about hacking into Wikileaks, frog habitats, different dimensions and metaphysics.
Feiler told deputies he had gone to the airport to look for crystals, and had encountered Turner carrying a package that he believed belonged to him. He said that he became frightened of Turner, punching him in the face, knocking him down, then kicking him in the chest and throwing a large piece of wood at him.
In May 2012, Feiler was ruled not guilty by reason of insanity, and was transported to Napa State Hospital. Feiler successfully petitioned for transfer to outpatient treatment in 2017. At the time, Public Defender Keri Klein stressed that the conditional release program would involve intensive monitoring and support.
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Feiler now has petitioned for termination of involuntary treatment and a jury will be asked to determine if he has been restored to sanity. During a Monday hearing in Nevada County Superior Court, Klein noted the issue is whether Feiler still poses a danger to the community, or if he can be released from supervision.
“Many people are under the mistaken assumption that a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea and finding is a get out of jail free card,” Klein said in an email. “It is far from it. It often results in a term of confinement far greater than underlying offense provides for.”
Usually, the person is committed to a psychiatric facility, Klein said, explaining that in California, those facilities are part of the state prison system.
“While people placed in these facilities are not considered ‘incarcerated,’ for all intents and purposes they are,” she said.
Once a person is found to not be a danger to society while supervised and treated in the community, they can be placed on conditional release to last at least a year, Klein said. They then are evaluated to determine if they would be a danger to the community should they be released from involuntary treatment.
“Recommending restoration is rare and is not taken lightly by the Conditional Release treatment team.” Klein said, adding she has seen clients continued on conditional release for decades if they haven’t proved themselves to be restored to sanity.
“While I cannot speak to many specifics of Mr. Feiler’s case, I can say that he has worked quite hard and fully embraced his obligations and treatment while on conditional release,” Klein said. “His Conditional Release Team has unanimously recommended restoration.”
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said his office is opposing Feiler’s release from outpatient supervision because “we believe someone who murders another person shouldn’t be completely released from all oversight.”
Feiler “suffers from a severe mental illness that caused him to murder the victim in this case,” Walsh added. “He has already been released from in-patient treatment, meaning he’s not in custody and hasn’t been for years.”
A trial date has been set for Aug. 11 with the trial expected to last two or three days.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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