SALLISAW — The attorney for convicted killer Daniel Hawke Fears said a ruling by the state Court of Criminal Appeals means his client now will receive needed treatment. "His family is relieved,” attorney Rob Nigh said. The court ruled Monday its earlier decision was correct to overturn Fears' murder convictions in favor of a ruling of not guilty by reason of insanity. Fears was an 18-year-old Sallisaw High School senior when he went on a 20-minute shooting spree on Oct. 26, 2002, after a neighbor criticized his driving as reckless. Law enforcement authorities say he broke into his father's house, stole his gun and started shooting nearly everyone he encountered. He was convicted in 2004 on two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Sallisaw resident Patsy Sue Wells, 61, and Reba Spangler, 68, of Fort Smith, Ark. A hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Sequoyah County District Court. There is not much to dispute what can happen at the hearing, Nigh said. Fears, who was diagnosed as a schizophrenic, will be transported to a state mental hospital, he said. The next step will be a review hearing in 45 days, Nigh said. "If it is determined that he (Fears) is dangerous to himself or the community, or in continued need of supervision, he will stay at the hospital,” Nigh said. Nigh did say there was a "reasonable possibility” Fears may be released from the hospital, but not soon. Fears also was convicted on eight counts of shooting with intent to kill, five counts of discharging a firearm from a vehicle and one count each of pointing a firearm and discharging a firearm with intent to kill. Appeals court Vice Presiding Judge Gary Lumpkin, in a dissenting opinion, accused his colleagues of acting like "philosopher kings” in substituting their own finding for those of the jury. The court denied a request by Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson that the justices rehear the reversal of the jury's verdict. The court agreed earlier to delay the transfer to a mental institution while it considered Edmondson's motion. In the ruling filed Friday, the court's majority decided that Edmondson was wrong in his argument that the case should go back to a jury of Fears' peers. "The state mistakenly suggests that this court does not have the authority to reach its decision,” read the majority opinion reached by Judges Charles Chapel, Charles Johnson and David Lewis. "Because double jeopardy prohibits a second trial after an appellate court has found the evidence legally insufficient to support a conviction, the remedy is reversal with instructions to dismiss,” the ruling added. Lumpkin, siding against the majority, declared in his opinion that the new verdict revealed "unbridled discretion” by the appeals court. Judge Arlene Johnson also dissented in the 3-2 vote. Contributing: The Associated Press
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Daniel Hawke Fears Fears is shown in a 2002 police photo.