Eureka resident Errica Lee Stevens, who thought she was saving the world from aliens when she attacked a Walgreens cashier with a hammer, has been committed to a state mental hospital for treatment.

Errica Stevens

This morning Judge Christopher Wilson, who in separate court trials found Stevens guilty of attempted murder and then not guilty by reason of insanity, ordered the commitment to the California Department of Hospitals.

On Oct. 29, 2016, Stevens swiped a hammer from the hardware aisle at the Walgreens store at Harris and Harrison in Eureka, then used it to bludgeon a cashier whom she believed was not entirely human. After the attack, which was stopped by another Walgreens employee, Stevens told a police officer God told her to kill the cashier to save humanity from destruction. The victim was treated and released at St. Joseph Hospital.

Outside the courtroom today, defense attorney Neal Sanders said Stevens’ sentence for attempted murder is nine years. During the nine years she has the option of petitioning to be released. After nine years has passed, it will be up to the Department of Hospitals to prove she remains a danger to the community and should not be set free.

Today Wilson set Aug. 22 for a “confirmation of transport” hearing. Given the overcrowded conditions in the state hospital system, it’s likely Stevens will still be in Humboldt County Correctional Facility on that date. At least two other inmates, Antone Richard Aubrey IV and Kimberly Ann Felder, are still awaiting transfer to the state hospital. Aubrey, accused of murdering his sister, has been waiting since April to be moved out of the county.

It’s become the norm in these cases for defense attorneys to threaten the state with contempt of court. At that point, when the state Attorney General’s Office is asked to step in and defend the Department of Hospitals, a space usually becomes available.