Mental Health Bill Honors Slain Official

     OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) – Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin on Monday signed into law a mental health treatment bill named after former state Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, who was stabbed to death last year by his adult son.
     Fallin signed House Bill 1697 flanked by members of Costello’s family.
     The law gives family members, mental health professionals and peace officers the power to ask a district attorney to seek involuntary commitment or assisted outpatient treatment for someone with a history of noncompliance with treatment. The person must have been hospitalized at least twice within three years.
     The law directs state courts to consider several factors in considering commitment petitions, including the rights of the person to refuse medication.
     State courts may order the person to show cause why he or she should not be committed or placed in alternative outpatient treatment if they are “not complying with the order or that the alternative treatment program has not been sufficient to prevent harm or injury which the individual may be inflicting upon himself or others.”
     Costello’s son, Christian, is accused of killing his father at a Braum’s restaurant in Oklahoma City in August last year, during a failed attempt at reconciliation with his parents. Witnesses said the men were in a heated argument before Costello’s son stabbed him in the neck in the restaurant and again in the parking lot. Police said other customers restrained the younger Costello after the attack. He is awaiting trial on a first-degree murder charge.
     Costello’s wife, said Cathy, was “overjoyed” when H.B. 1697 passed the state Senate in March.
     “I am very proud of our distinguished men and women of the senate for recognizing the need to help our fellow Oklahomans who suffer with mental illness who have deteriorated to the point where they need help,” she told NPR-affiliate KGOU at the time.
     Costello’s wife had asked Fallin to appoint her to serve the remaining three years of her husband’s term. Fallin appointed Melissa McLawhorn Houston to the post in November.

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