File photo.
File photo.

A young man who fatally shot his father in their Riverside home during what the defense argued was an impulsive act perpetrated in the midst of a mental breakdown was found Friday to be insane.

After two days of deliberations in the sanity phase of trial for 19-year- old Kenneth Lee Phillips, a Riverside jury concluded that he was incapable of understanding his actions when he killed 53-year-old Ken Phillips Sr. on Nov. 11, 2013.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Ronald Taylor scheduled a placement hearing for the defendant on Dec. 23 at the Riverside Hall of Justice. The judge will make a determination then on the possible duration of psychiatric treatment for Phillips at a state mental health facility.

It’s unknown if the prosecution intends to file a motion requesting that the judge overrule the jury’s finding and sentence Phillips to 30 years to life in prison.

The same jury who found the defendant insane convicted him on Nov. 9 of second-degree murder with a sentence-enhancing gun use allegation.

Phillips is being held at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

On Monday, clinical psychologist Dr. Rahn Minagawa testified that he believed Phillips was “spiraling down” when he killed his father.

“His grades were suffering before he dropped out of school, and his use of marijuana was increasing. There is no doubt he was severely depressed prior to the shooting,” Minagawa said.

The witness testified that he did not believe the young man had received “adequate” therapy in the two months before the killing. The then-17-year-old youth was taken by his mother to see a licensed therapist, as well as driven to the emergency room at Riverside Community Hospital for a suicide risk assessment.

Minagawa questioned the thoroughness of the hospital triage and felt that the defendant’s behavior gave all indications of a worsening mental state. The doctor also concluded that Phillips’ condition was exacerbated by frequently smoking marijuana and likely ingesting opiates, such as heroin, over a period of five months.

The prosecution’s psychiatric experts diagnosed Phillips as sane.

Deputy District Attorney Alma Hernandez noted that blood tests never revealed the presence of heroin in Phillips’ system, and she also suggested that he was behaving like a rebellious youth, quitting the football team when his father attempted to enforce discipline after discovering marijuana in his possession.

Christine Phillips, the boy’s mother, testified last month that her youngest son was filled with “disdain and disrespect” for his father, without justification.

“His attitude was anger with everybody,” she recalled. “His disdain got progressively worse over time.”

The woman acknowledged coddling the defendant and going to great lengths to make him happy, including not accompanying her husband on a vacation in order to see to the boy’s needs.

On the afternoon of the attack, Ken Phillips was standing at the master bedroom closet in his Sunshine Lane home when his son approached from behind and opened fire.

The Newport Beach investment adviser suffered five blasts from a 12- gauge shotgun and at least the same number of shots from an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, according to trial testimony.

— City News Service

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