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Originally published Sunday, January 7, 2007 at 12:00 AM

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Teen has history of mental illness, jail evaluation says

The teenager charged with killing a fellow student at Foss High School in Tacoma last week "apparently has a diagnosis of schizophrenia,"...

Seattle Times staff reporter

The teenager charged with killing a fellow student at Foss High School in Tacoma last week "apparently has a diagnosis of schizophrenia," according to a jail mental-health evaluation.

Douglas Chanthabouly, 18, was hospitalized at a psychiatric facility in Kirkland two years ago after he attempted suicide, according to the report filed in court last week. He has been taking an antipsychotic medication, and he has ongoing symptoms that "are reduced but not extinguished with medication," he told Penny Hobson of Pierce County jail's mental-health staff.

He also told her he has had problems with memory since his psychotic symptoms started two years ago.

Hobson described Chanthabouly as confused at times and as having hallucinations. His understanding of his current circumstances was good, according to the evaluation.

Hobson wrote that there may be competency concerns based on Chanthabouly's history. "This would obviously be impacted by his attorney's ability to communicate with him," she wrote.

On Friday, Chanthabouly was charged in Pierce County Superior Court with first-degree murder in the slaying of 17-year-old Samnang "Sam" Kok. He pleaded not guilty. His bail was set at $1 million.

According to the charging papers, Chanthabouly walked up to Kok as he was standing in front of a row of lockers just before school started Wednesday, pointed a handgun at him, and said, "What's up?" He then fired a single shot into Kok's face from no more than a foot away.

Then, court documents say, Chanthabouly stood over Kok and shot him two more times in front of many students and faculty members.

He waved the handgun at several witnesses and left the building, the documents state.

Chanthabouly was arrested a few blocks away about two hours later. Police said he was armed with a 9 mm handgun.

It's too early to say how defense attorneys will deal with the results of the jail's mental-health evaluation, but it would be a reason for them to look into Chanthabouly's mental capacity, Deputy Prosecutor Edmund Murphy said.

Defense attorney John Chin said he and his fellow public defender have reviewed Chanthabouly's evaluation and plan to examine avenues for a defense, according to The Associated Press.

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"At this point, we're exploring all issues," said Chin, who declined to go into specifics.

All inmates, when first booked, undergo routine screening, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said, according to The Associated Press. An additional evaluation is done in cases where there appear to be emotional or mental problems, he said.

The evaluation also helps determine whether a prisoner needs special attention or to be segregated from the main jail population.

Chanthabouly was put into a "crisis cell" his first night in jail so he could be closely monitored, Troyer said.

The evaluation described Chanthabouly as somewhat depressed and withdrawn but said he "does not currently appear to be imminently at risk."

Chanthabouly also has a "somewhat anxious and hesitant interpersonal style," Hobson wrote. Chanthabouly cooperated with the evaluation.

He has refused to provide a reason for the shooting, saying, "I don't want it in the news," according to a probable-cause statement signed Thursday by Deputy Prosecutor Murphy.

Some have described the two students as close friends, while others have said they were just casual school acquaintances.

Both families were in court Friday.

Kok's funeral will be at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the South Side Baptist Church in Tacoma. It is to be preceded by an 11 a.m. viewing.

Information from The Associated Press and from Seattle Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge was used in this report.

Cheryl Phillips: 206-464-2411 or cphillips@seattletimes.com

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