Crime

UPDATE: Mental health concerns factor into Boise religious attack

Marguerite Haragan, 58, accused of attacking a Jewish woman in February, received court-ordered treatment for mental health issues so that she would be fit to assist in her own defense, according to court documents.

Annette Guidry, a Jewish woman, said Haragan attacked her for her religion. Guidry was grabbed by the hair, took a foot to the neck, and was kicked in the stomach and groin in February.

After Haragan’s initial arrest on two felony counts of malicious harassment, her brother Patrick Haragan told the Statesman that his sister’s actions were reflective of a mental illness, not bigotry. He said his sister has dealt with mental health problems for decades, was institutionalized by the state multiple times and that the events of February triggered when she stopped taking the medication that helped her manage her schizophrenia.

Marguerite Haragan does have a history of occasional battery and harassment charges, according to state court records, including three previous counts of misdemeanor battery in Kootenai County that were all eventually dismissed. The reasons for those dismissals were not immediately evident in Kootenai County court records.

Idaho has no insanity plea. Rather, defendants in a criminal case who are deemed unable to assist in their own defense are sent to one of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s state hospitals for treatment, until a state doctor certifies that they are in better mental condition.

Attorneys involved in Marguerite Haragan’s case wouldn’t elaborate earlier this year as to whether mental health played a role in the attack. But according to court documents, 4th District Magistrate Cathleen MacGregor Irby on Feb. 26 ordered a mental health evaluation of Haragan. Based on the results, Irby on April 9 concluded Haragan was unfit to proceed in the court case and committed her to Health and Welfare's care. Three weeks later, Irby ordered Haragan returned to Ada County following an update from a state physician, and the court case resumed.

CASE ADVANCES TO DISTRICT COURT

Thursday, Guidry testified at Haragan's preliminary hearing, at which a magistrate judge determines if charges should continue on to district court and a trial.

Guidry told the court she was forced to agree with her attacker’s religious views before Haragan let up.

“She told me I had to accept Jesus Christ as my savior and told me to say those words,” Annette Guidry told Irby. “I was hoping the police would arrive, but I finally had to say those words.”

Jews do not believe Jesus to be the Messiah or a prophet. They view him as an ordinary Jewish man.

Irby found that probable cause existed to move forward with the case. Haragan is scheduled to be arraigned before 4th District Judge Timothy Hansen on June 3.

Guidry, who is Jewish, said she knew Haragan casually for several years. She said she saw Haragan at Deli Days at Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel temple and at a dinner at a rabbi’s house, but did not know her last name. She said Haragan once gave her a ceramic bird and a salt and pepper shaker, but asked for the gifts back as her behavior started “getting stranger and stranger.”

Last August, Guidry said “out of the blue” she started received harassing telephone messages from Haragan, who called her a “dirty Jew” and other insults. One time, Haragan showed up at her home on the Boise Bench and told her “how much she hated me,” Guidry said.

On the day of the incident, Feb. 5, Guidry said Haragan began beating on her windows. Guidry said she told the woman to leave but Haragan kept beating on the windows even after Guidry said she closed her blinds.

Guidry said she went outside to write down the license plate number of Haragan’s car and called police. Guidry said Haragan, wearing a red cowboy hat, grabbed her and struck her.

Guidry said she suffered a sore back and neck for a week after the attack. She told Irby that until recently, her neck bothered her with a tingling sensation when she moved it a certain way.

Under questioning by defense attorney Anita Moore, Guidry said she was aware that Haragan suffered from a mental illness and took medication for the treatment.

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