Tennessee widow sues DC agency over escapee’s hatchet attack
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — A Tennessee woman is suing the Washington, D.C., Department of Corrections and a halfway house over an escapee who’s accused of killing her husband.
News outlets report Lana Paavola accuses them of negligence in their handling of 36-year-old Domenic Micheli, who had been arrested on charges of trespassing at the White House that April.
In that court case, a clinical psychologist with Washington’s behavioral health department last month found Micheli “alert, cooperative, and very pleasant” during an examination, and she could not elicit irrational or delusional ideations or beliefs from him, despite attempts to do so, the May 14 filing states.
The psychologist determined Micheli was currently competent to stand trial, saying that “issues that may have been present around the time of his arrest may have abated,” the document states.
Micheli did give the psychologist “information that could potentially be interpreted as irrational,” but it didn’t significantly interfere with his understanding of court proceedings, the filing says.
In turn, the judge found there was no “reasonable basis” to believe additional mental competency evaluation or another hearing about the topic was warranted at the time.
A May 18, 2018 docket entry said Micheli remained in a pretrial halfway house placement in Washington under court orders. Authorities said Micheli later escaped from a halfway house and went to Tennessee, where he used a hatchet and a meat cleaver to kill his former boss, Paavola’s husband, Joel. Joel Paavola had reportedly fired Micheli about 14 months prior to the attack outside The Balance Training center, at a shopping center in the Belle Meade community.
“Micheli brutally, savagely attacked Paavola at the front of the business,” police spokesman Don Aaron said.
Less than two hours after the attack, Micheli limped into an urgent care facility in Gallatin, about 35 miles (55 kilometers) from the Belle Meade community where the attack occurred, according to surveillance photos tweeted by police. He left within five minutes after he was told the center didn’t have suture kits, and pulled out in his older model silver Toyota Prius, police said.
Police say Micheli was limping from a left leg injury.
An hour later, he was spotted on a surveillance camera buying medical items at a Gallatin drug store, police said.
Law enforcement agencies across the region and in other states had been helping Nashville detectives locate Micheli.
Kentucky State Police arrested Micheli on I-65 near Bowling Green.
Micheli is charged with murder and aggravated assault in the June 4 slaying.
The lawsuit says the corrections department and halfway house did not immediately report the escape, and says authorities also failed to use Micheli’s social media posts to track him down before the slaying.