Crime - Sacto 911

Mom in apartment standoff released into treatment facility as Sacramento court date nears

At shooting scene, Sacramento County Sheriff’s sergeant describes what happened

A large police presence seen at active shooter situation at La Riviera and Salmon Fall drives, off Watt Avenue, in Sacramento on July 16, 2019
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A large police presence seen at active shooter situation at La Riviera and Salmon Fall drives, off Watt Avenue, in Sacramento on July 16, 2019

Kathy Miller was released into a local treatment facility Monday, nearly a week after she allegedly fired gunshots that brought SWAT units to her apartment doorstep in Sacramento County’s La Riviera community and led to her arrest later the same week on separate domestic violence charges.

Miller, 31, of Sacramento, who faces criminal charges including discharging a firearm in an inhabited dwelling and child endangerment connected to the back-to-back incidents July 16 and 17, did not appear Monday before Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Ken Brody, her attorneys said.

“Miller was ordered released (Monday). We worked with prosecutors to get her released into a treatment facility,” Miller’s co-counsel Shelby Alberts said Tuesday in an interview at Sacramento County Courthouse. “We think treatment is the answer, not incarceration.”

Sacramento police SWAT officers were called to the apartment at La Riviera and Salmon Falls drives near Watt Avenue about 8 a.m. July 16 on reports that Miller had fired shots inside the home. Her three children were inside.

Miller didn’t leave for an hour as police converged on the apartment complex in an eerie replay of the deadly standoff exactly a month earlier that claimed the life of a rookie Sacramento police officer.

But the mid-morning standoff ended peacefully, Miller emerging from the apartment, hands raised. Her three children were not hurt. Today, the children are in the custody of family members.

A day later and free on bail, Miller was in trouble again, this time inside a room at a Folsom hotel, suspected of inflicting injury on her husband and committing a felony while released on bail, Folsom police said.

The decision doesn’t suspend criminal proceedings. Miller’s competency is not at issue, attorneys said. Her next court date is Aug. 14.

“This isn’t a get-out-of-jail-free card,” Miller attorney Michelle Trigger said Tuesday.

Miller’s attorneys anticipate the hearing before Sacramento Superior Court Commissioner Ken Brody will be a report on Miller’s progress.

“Criminal proceedings still continue but now on a treatment path – she was still formally arraigned,” Trigger continued. “We don’t believe she’s incompetent, we just believe she needs a little bit of help.”

But Tuesday, Trigger and co-counsel Alberts detailed the whirlwind effort with Sacramento County prosecutors to place her into an outside treatment facility.

“When we got the case, we knew pretty quickly that it was likely a mental health issue. Ms. Miller has had not as much as a traffic ticket. She’s good to her children. She’s had no reports of being anything other than a pleasant person, then she shoots a weapon with her children present,” Trigger said “It’s not always our job to just defend someone – it’s also ours to advocate for them.”

Trigger and Alberts said their work with prosecutors, the court and Miller’s family was possible through the Superior Court’s collaborative court.

Prosecutors, public defenders, the court, probation and county mental health workers are part of the court team, whose goal is to provide treatment for criminal offenders with mental health issues. Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services providers oversee treatment

Because Sacramento has a collaborative court, Trigger and Alberts said they wanted to work “extremely quickly” with the court and prosecutors to get Miller approved for treatment.

How long Miller will be in treatment is not immediately clear: “It’s really hard to predict that,” Trigger said. “She’s in the assessment stage right now.”

“The public wants justice. They want a person to answer for what they’ve done,” Trigger said. “But justice is not just punishment it’s rehabilitation. The system, if it works correctly, can help.”

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Darrell Smith covers courts and California news for The Sacramento Bee. He joined The Bee in 2006 and previously worked at newspapers in Palm Springs, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Marysville. A Sacramento Valley native, Smith was born and raised at Beale Air Force Base, near Marysville.