All about Daniel Chan

Judge rules man is able to face trial

From The Oregonian, April 24, 1990 – not available elsewhere online

After seven weeks of mental treatment, a Portland man accused of drowning his 5-year-old daughter in December is mentally capable of standing trial, a Multnomah County judge ruled Monday.

Daniel Chan, 36, who is taking an anti-psychotic medicine prescribed for him during a stay at Oregon State Hospital, understands the charges against him and is capable of assisting his lawyers, a state psychiatrist testified.

Dr. Alice Shannon said Chan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was experiencing hallucinations and delusions when he was admitted to the hospital early in February.

She said Chan “did very well” during seven weeks of treatment. She said he wouldn’t talk at all when he was first admitted. By the time he left March 30, she said Chan was acting “fairly sociable.”

Shannon said Chan has suffered from chronic mental illness for at least six years. “I don’t expect him to get better,” she said. “It is very likely that if he stops his medicine, he will have a recurrence.”

Chan is being held at the Justice Center jail. Judge Philip T. Abraham approved a motion by the state Monday to have him held without bail pending trial.

Chan is accused of drowning his daughter Cindy, 5, in the bathtub of an apartment at 8112 S.E. Mill St., where the defendant, his wife, daughter and a son lived.

In addition to murder, Chan also is accused of two counts each of first-degree robbery, first-degree kidnapping and car theft stemming from incidents at a nearby Safeway store at 101 S.E. 82nd Ave. later the same morning.

Based on his investigation, Portland homicide Detective David Ruby said Monday that he believes the girl was drowned before the other alleged crimes occurred. Chan was arrested later the same day after he picked up his son from school.

Shannon said Chan’s delusions involved his strong belief in God. “He believed he was operating under fiat from God, if you will,” she testified.

During his stay at the hospital, Chan was able to follow orders not to talk about details of his case, Shannon testified. She said he now appeared to understand plea bargaining and the potential consequences facing him.

Shannon warned that Chan’s mental state could deteriorate for several reasons. She mentioned as possibilities the stresses of life in jail and grief arising from the death of his daughter.

Father guilty but insane in daughter’s killing

From The Oregonian, Tuesday, June 12, 1990

A Portland man who drowned his 5-year-old daughter while thinking he was acting under God’s orders was found guilty of murder but criminally insane Monday.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Philip T. Abraham concluded that Daniel Chan, 37, did not appreciate the nature of his conduct and was unable to conform to the law during a crime spree Dec. 6 in Southeast Portland.

The spree included the drowning of his daughter, Cindy, in the bathtub of his apartment at 8112 S.E. Mill St. It also included the kidnapping of a neighbor and the robbery of a nearby Safeway store. He was arrested about noon that day.

As a result of a stipulation by the state and Chan’s court-appointed defense lawyers, Abraham found Chan guilty but insane for all three major felonies.

The insanity finding spares Chan from a potential prison sentence. After hearing additional testimony about Chan’s mental state, the judge is scheduled to decide next week what level of supervision, if any, Chan needs.

Options available to the judge range from committing Chan to a state mental hospital for life down to releasing him from custody without supervision.

An intermediate option is conditional release if the judge finds that Chan could live out of custody while undergoing treatment.

Deputy District Attorney David Peters said he plans to submit evidence showing that Chan still poses a danger to others and to himself. Jack Morris, one of Chan’s two defense lawyers, said he intends to argue that Chan no longer is dangerous.

Dr. Alice Shannon, a state psychiatrist, testified in April that Chan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. Until Chan began taking an anti-psychotic medicine at the Oregon State Hospital, where he was sent for treatment, Shannon said he thought he was acting under God’s orders.

She said symptoms of Chan’s mental defect included delusions and hallucinations.

Chan has been on the medication since his seven-week stint at the hospital. Morris said Monday that the drug “perhaps has the effect of dulling his emotions.” However, Morris said the medication did not affect Chan’s ability to make legal decisions about his criminal case.

Chan appeared in court Monday with an interpreter. He said he understands English but does not read it well. Asked by the judge whether he had any questions, Chan replied, “I understand what is going on.”

Man who drowned daughter sent to institution

From The Oregonian, June 20, 1990

A mentally ill Portland man who drowned his 5-year-old daughter while suffering from delusions was committed Tuesday to a state mental hospital for an indefinite period.

Multnomah County Circuit Judge Philip T. Abraham said Daniel Chan, 37, represents a “substantial danger” to others, although Chan’s condition appears to have improved with medication.

Chan on June 11 was convicted of murder and found criminally insane for the Dec. 6 drowning of his daughter, Cindy, in the bathtub at the family’s Southeast Portland apartment.

According to facts submitted by the prosecution and defense, Chan believed he was acting under God’s orders when he drowned his daughter. He interpreted two fire sirens he heard the previous night as God’s signal to kill her.

Mental health experts called by the state and the defense both testified that Chan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, a condition that can include delusions and hallucinations.

Chan’s treatment and custody will be monitored by the state Psychiatric Security Review Board. The board will have jurisdiction over Chan for the rest of his life, and will determine when, if ever, Chan is ready to live outside an institution.

Arthur Norman, a clinical psychologist called by the defense, testified Tuesday that Chan, unlike many paranoid schizophrenics, is “extremely motivated to change.”

Norman said Chan poses no danger to others while he is taking medication. He also said psychologists and psychiatrists cannot accurately predict future dangerousness.

Abraham said the homicide, followed the same day by the knife-point kidnapping of a woman and the robbery of the Safeway store where Chan worked, were indications of Chan’s dangerousness.

While acknowledging that Chan is doing well on medication, Deputy District Attorney David Peters said there was no guarantee Chan would continue taking his medicine if he were released into the community.

Defense lawyer Jack Morris said he anticipated an appeal of Abraham’s ruling. He said the state had failed to prove that Chan was a “substantial danger” to others as required before a hospital commitment can be imposed.