Florida man still behind bars after being found not guilty by mental defect

WAFF 48's Claudia Peppenhorst reporting
Published: Sep. 6, 2023 at 8:18 PM CDT
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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) -A Florida man is still behind bars in the Limestone County Jail after being found not guilty by reason of mental defect last year. Now, his attorney is fighting to get him released and home to his family.

Michael Kinney, who served in the military for 18-years, was arrested in July 2022 for making terrorist threats to the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office on Facebook. He was found not guilty a few months later due to his mental condition.

Now, almost a year after being acquitted, Kinney remains in the Limestone County Jail.

“Mr. Kinney just got lost in the shuffle and there he sits,” said Kinney’s attorney Lucas Beaty. “We’re just trying to raise awareness and get him out.”

District Attorney Brian Jones said he is not against releasing Kinney, but wants to make sure he is not a danger to himself or others.

However, Beaty also said the Alabama Department of Mental Health evaluated Kinney after he was found not guilty. In that evaluation, officials said that Kinney does not appear to be dangerous.

“Mr. Kinney was evaluated, he was sent back to the jail and due to several factors he got lost in the system and he remains in jail today after being found not guilty in November 2022,” Beaty said. “His family wants answers and that’s what we’re trying to get them. This is a systematic failure.”

Judge Chadwick Wise heard arguments from Beaty and the District Attorney’s office on Wednesday about whether Kinney should be released. He then set another hearing for a later date and ordered a risk assessment to be done on Kinney.

Kinney’s family traveled from Florida to Athens for the hearing. Knowing that he will have to remain in jail for the time being, his mother feels helpless.

She said her hope moving forward is simple.

“That my son would go to the VA hospital and to get treatment and then to come back home, I mean we’re not asking for much,” said Carolyn Kinney. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know what else to do. I don’t know why they won’t let him go, I just don’t know anymore.”

District Attorney Jones told WAFF 48 News that he is working on finding an available bed at the VA hospital for Kinney.

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