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Baby Alexya's incident inspires mental illness treatment legislation

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She's the youngest person to file a bill at the Guam Legislature. Bill 115, also known as the Alexya Esser Law, was introduced Thursday morning. The legislation seeks to provide for assisted outpatient treatment services for persons with certain mental illnesses.   

Alexya, who is only a year old, was punched in the face on New Year's Day. The incident was caught on mall surveillance footage and her alleged assailant, Yu Hua Han, arrested.

Following her arrest, it was discovered that this wasn't Han's first offense. Back in 2009 she was arrested for stabbing a baby girl and the baby's father. According to the victims, the 2009 case was expunged because Han was deemed unfit to stand trial as a result of paranoid schizophrenia.

The discovery shocked Alexya's parents - Fred and Alyssa - that the crime against their baby girl could've been prevented. "It was a horrible situation but it's good to see something positive come from all of this," said Fred, with Alyssa adding, "And we appreciate all the support from the people here on Guam. The one thing we said when this happened was that we wanted to do everything we can so this doesn't happen again. With this bill's help, I think that we've made a big step to getting there."

The legislation was introduced by Senators Dennis Rodriguez Jr., Rory Respicio, and Tony Ada. According to the bill, assisted outpatient treatment, also known as outpatient commitment, is practiced in 45 states as an extension of inpatient treatment while allowing the qualified patient with a treatable mental illness or condition to receive court ordered treatment on an outpatient basis. Studies also show that continued treatment and management of the patient's condition on an outpatient basis greatly reduces incidents of violence and arrests.

In May, Han appeared in court where her mental illness was discussed. According to Dr. Kirk Bellis, who conducted Han's court ordered psychiatric evaluation, Han suffers from schizophrenic spectrum disorder, formerly known as paranoid schizophrenia. Han reportedly told Dr. Bellis that she believed she needed to pay the government money and that the only way to do that was to commit an offense so that she could be fined and pay the government. This was her reasoning for punching Baby Alexya.

Dr. Bellis noted that Han's medical records showed she was first committed to the Guam Behavioral Health and Wellness Center (formerly known as the Department of Mental Health) back in 2006, and her last time at the center was in October 2014.

While the court has taken Han's competency under advisement, Han's next court appearance is scheduled for June 22.

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