The fate of a Fairfield sex offender petitioning the county for his unconditional release from state supervision is likely to be in the hands of a jury in the coming months, following a judge’s probable cause finding Monday morning in Solano County Superior Court.
Fraisure Earl Smith, 52, who’s been labeled a sexually violent predator, has been living as a transient since November 2015 and occupying various motels in Solano County since his release from a state hospital, despite rape and assault convictions dating back to the 1990s. The man was released from Coalinga State Hospital after the Department of State Hospitals approved his petition in 2015 asking for his release.
Since his release from the hospital, Smith has been supervised by Liberty Health Care, a company contracted by the state to manage sexually violent predators. According to representatives of the contracted agency, Smith is monitored in person by a case manager and a GPS tracking device while living at area motels.
In November, at the one-year mark since his release from the state hospital, Smith and his attorney, James McEntee, asked the court to consider granting him unsupervised release — the purpose of Monday’s hearing.
After hours of testimony Monday morning from representatives of Liberty Health Care who have worked with Smith since his release, Judge Arvid Johnson found there was cause for the case to continue to trial.
During the hearing, the court heard testimony from a clinical forensic psychologist who’s worked with Smith since 2013. The psychologist testified Smith is no longer a danger to the community nor a sexually violent predator — primarily because of various health issues, including cancer, the man has suffered in recent years.
“Mr. Smith, given all the stress in his life, is doing extremely well,” the psychologist testified. “He’s thankful to be alive [and] wants to spend time with his family.”
The court also heard from a community health worker who has worked with the man since September. The health worker testified how she found Smith to be inspiring because of what he’s overcome in life — cancer and incarceration.
On the other side of the spectrum, the court also heard testimony from a case manager with Liberty Health Care, Ben Hoffman, who voiced his opposition to the man’s release from supervision.
“I believe [his unsupervised release] would be a huge mistake,” Hoffman testified.
The witness cited the short time Smith has been out of the state hospital and said he believed it would be difficult for the man to be suddenly released into society with no support.
Monday’s court discussions confirmed Smith receives all his financial and housing support from Liberty Health Care.
According to another witness, Alan Stillman, an executive director at Liberty Healthcare, the average violent predator is supervised by the agency for an average of three to four years before released from supervision.
Stillman went on in his testimony to say, Liberty Healthcare has never recommended unconditional release after just one year of supervision.
“There’s been a lot of progress, but more time on the program is still needed,” Stillman testified.
Another witness who testified on behalf of the district attorney expressed on the stand her concerns about the potential unsupervised release of Smith.
Clinical Director at Liberty Health Care, Cecelia Groman, told the court that while Smith was at the Coalinga State Hospital, he chose not to complete sex offender treatment. When the man’s attorney asked the witness how Smith could be released from the hospital without having completed the treatment, she did not have an answer.
Groman went on to emphasize how she believes Smith is not ready for unsupervised release into the community because he has not completed enough treatment.
“[Smith] needs more treatment time,” Groman said. “He would pose a risk to the community if he was unconditionally discharged.”
In closing arguments, Smith’s attorney went on to emphasize how his client has changed immensely over the years.
“Mr. Smith has changed, clearly he’s changed from what he was when he was at the state hospital.” McEntee said.
The Deputy District Attorney, Mary Nguyen, however, expressed concern and said Smith is still a high risk to the community.
At the close of Monday’s court proceedings, the judge ordered the man to reappear in court June 23 at 8:30 a.m. when a trial date may be set.
Because of scheduling conflicts with Smith’s attorney, the trial will likely not begin until after August.
Smith remains out custody living in Solano County motels.
If granted unsupervised release, Smith intends to live with his family in Texas, his attorney said Monday in court.