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Defiant Matzker held for trial

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I am not mentally ill. Raymond L. Matzker

by michael burke

photo by Charles S. Vallone

cutline: Raymond L. Metzger eneters the courtroom of Judge Dennis Barry for a hearing on Friday.

Convicted child molester Raymond L. Matzker is a paranoid schizophrenic who remains psychotic and suffers from very prominent delusions, a psychiatrist testified Friday.

The psychiatrist's testimony, and that of a psychologist in Racine County Circuit Court helped a judge decide that Matzker ought not be turned loose yet. Circuit Court Judge Dennis Barry ruled that Matzker should face a jury trial here to determine whether he will be committed for mental health treatment.

It was the state's first test of the new sexual predator law designed to keep potentially dangerous sexual offenders from being released into society after their imprisonment ends.

The law is being used here because Matzker was due to be released from a prison sentence meted out in Racine County. Matzker - who before his incarceration was director of the Winnebago Mental Health Institute - was sentenced in 1982 to eight years in prison for second-degree sexual assault after being convicted of fondling an 11-year-old Burlington boy.

That sentence was added onto a 10-year sentence he was given for offenses in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties.

It took 2 hours to reach the conclusion to hold Matzker during the preliminary hearing, in part because Matzker - who repeatedly insisted he is not mentally ill - at first wanted to face the proceeding without a lawyer.

"I believe it's the best way of handling the matter," he told Barry without elaborating. The judge then queried Matzker for about 30 minutes to determine whether he was capable of foregoing legal representation.

In the end, Matzker suddenly changed his position on having an attorney.

"I'd like to proceed with someone from the state Public Defenders Office helping me," he said to an obviously surprised Barry. Assistant public defender Sharyn Henry then took over Matzker's defense.

During the hearing, Matzker rejected the diagnosis that he has mental illness.

"I am not mentally ill," he said. "I've never allowed assessment or evaluation to take place."

Two mental health professionals who know Matzker disagreed. One was Thomas Michlowski, medical director at the Wisconsin Resource Center, where Matzker has most recently been a patient.

Michlowski said Matzker is a schizophrenic who "remains psychotic" although he is now on medication, and "suffers from very prominent delusions."

For example, during their first meeting Matzker said he was 800 years old, Michlowski said.

He has at times maintained he has no parents and that he was placed on Earth not by a woman, but by God. He also has said God takes care of him by dropping cash on his lawn, Michlowski said.

Matzker believes the reason for his incarceration - sexual abuse of young boys - "is all fiction, made up by society," the psychiatrist said.

Because Matzker has never admitted his problem of pedophilia, "He has not taken the first step so he can begin a reasonable treatment process," Michlowski said. For that reason, he said Matzker would probably act on those urges.

"The underlying mental illness is there. That does not go away."

Raymond Wood, a clinical psychologist at the Wisconsin Resource Center, had several occasions to assess Matzker. Wood said Matzker has always declined treatment.

Wood agreed Matzker, who was released from state prisons in 1990 but was returned when he violated his parole, would be likely to repeat his crimes.

After ruling there was probable cause to believe Matzker could be a violent sexual predator, Barry had him transferred to the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison until his trial, tentatively set for July 5.

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