Many Questions Still Unanswered In Man's "Quiet Room" Beating
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 9, 2006
WICHITA FALLS, TEXAS--One year ago today, Michael Fiala was taken from a padded, isolated "quiet room" at North Texas State Hospital to an emergency room.
Just a few hours earlier, he had told his father, Raymond, by phone that staff members at the psychiatric facility were beating him up.
The 35-year-old, who was described as having mental illness and mental retardation, was covered in bruises.
Fiala died, as an autopsy later revealed, from blunt force trauma to the head.
Later this month, hospital aide Michael Fontenot will face manslaughter charges related to Fiala's death. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Investigators plan to use video recorded from security cameras as evidence that Fontenot committed the crime. While the videos do not show Fontenot assaulting Fiala, they reportedly recorded the man's sudden decline, and are consistent with screams that other patients claimed they heard coming from Fiala earlier in the night.
An investigator with Adult Protective Services wrote that the only time Fiala was alone with a staff was when he was in his bedroom with Michael Fontenot. A bruise found on Fiala's abdomen matched the size and shape of a bedpost in his room.
Before he lost consciousness, Fiala reportedly told a nurse: "Michael Fontenot just beat me up."
According to WFAA-TV, Raymond Fiala plans to sue the state over his son's death.
"Death raises questions at mental hospital" (Dallas Morning News)
"Father seeks answers in mental institution death" (WFAA-TV)