A top psychologist at a state mental hospital has recommended conditional release for the Nichols Hills physician who fatally stabbed his 9-year-old son.
Dr. Stephen Paul Wolf, 52, was admitted June 8 to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita after he was found not guilty by reason of insanity of first-degree murder and assault.
The judge who acquitted Wolf has the final say-so on whether he can be released. A hearing is set for Aug. 9.
Oklahoma County District Judge Don Deason is not expected to approve Wolf's release. Still, prosecutors are furious with the recommendation by Samina R. Christopher, the director of forensic psychology at the Oklahoma Forensic Center.
“Dr. Wolf was, is and continues to be an extreme danger to the public and should never be released from a secure environment,” District Attorney David Prater said.
Prater said evidence shows Wolf had a history before his son's death of not taking all the medication prescribed for his longtime mental illness. “Had he been med-compliant, he probably wouldn't have killed Tommy,” Prater said.
The prosecutor said Wolf cannot be relied upon to take his required medication if released. “Nor would it be justice,” Prater said.
Defense attorney Mack Martin declined to comment.
Wolf stabbed his son at their $500,000 home shortly before 4 a.m. Nov. 16, 2009. He repeatedly told the Nichols Hills police officer who broke up the attack, “He's got the devil in him,” according to a police affidavit.
His wife, Mary Wolf, suffered cuts to her hands and face.
Prosecutors did not oppose his acquittal on the insanity ground. The prosecution's own expert concluded Wolf “did not know that his conduct was wrong and he did not understand the nature and consequences of his act.”
In making the recommendation for his release, the state psychologist, Christopher, told the judge that Dr. Wolf plans to avoid future psychological difficulties “by remaining medication and treatment compliant, under the supervision and care of a physician.”
“Dr. Wolf objectively responds favorably to medication and currently acknowledges his mental illness. Therefore, Dr. Wolf is considered not presently dangerous due to mental illness but in need of continued supervision due to a history of treatment noncompliance. Therefore, conditional release is recommended,” Christopher wrote.
In a separate July 13 report, the senior staff psychiatrist at the Vinita center wrote Wolf “does not meet criteria for involuntary hospitalization as defined” in the law because he is not presently dangerous.
“It is my professional opinion that the symptoms of psychosis (delusional thinking) are in remission,” the psychiatrist, Dr. Michael A. Nugent, also wrote.
Wolf's wife has sued him for divorce and also is pursuing a wrongful-death lawsuit against him, his family and an on-call physician, records show. Mary Wolf's brother said she has adopted newborn twins, a boy and a girl. The brother said her family hopes the judge will take into consideration their safety, too. “There's a surviving victim,” the brother said.
The doctor was arrested at his Nichols Hills home the morning of the attack and was held in the Oklahoma County jail until he was hospitalized in Vinita.
If he is not released, he will stay at the Oklahoma Forensic Center for inpatient treatment in a program with others found not guilty of crimes by reason of insanity. Only the judge can approve a move to a less restrictive environment. The center is run by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
He is quoted in one of the reports to the judge as saying he believes it was fair that he was found not guilty by reason of insanity.
“I was totally delusional when I killed my son,” he is quoted as saying. “I was thinking that Tommy was evil, that he would do bad things in his life, and I was feeling evil myself and I started thinking if I'm evil, my son must be evil. … I just don't think there'll be a day I'll be happy ever again. … I feel terrible ... I was really sick and, if I think of that, I'm easier on myself than otherwise. I miss Tommy so much.”