Warning: This article contains graphic content.
On Feb. 23, 2001, then first-year UC Santa Barbara student David Attias drove his 1991 Saab on Sabado Tarde Road at 65 mph, killing four people — Nick Bourdakis, Christopher Divis, Elie Israel and Ruth Levy — and injuring another, Albert Levy, Ruth Levy’s brother, in an event now known as the Isla Vista Massacre.
Now, 21 years later, Attias is requesting to be released from his supervision program, a condition of his sentence of insanity. He served 10 years at Patton State Hospital and was then released into a state-run community supervision program.
Attias is requesting unconditional release from the state-run community supervision program (known as CONREP), citing better mental health with the help of medications, sobriety and therapy, Noozhawk reported.
Attias’ hearing began last week at the Santa Barbara County Superior Court, and a verdict is expected this Friday. Witnesses testifying on behalf of Attias include his father, therapist and current girlfriend. Witnesses testifying on behalf of the people in People of the State of California v. David Edward Attias.
Lindsey Bourdakis told Noozhawk in an interview that she doesn’t want Attias or his family to forget his actions.
“I don’t want people to forget,” Lindsey Bourdakis told the court. “I don’t want his family to be done with it. We’re reminded of it every day, and I only hope he’s reminded of it every day.”
During Wednesday’s proceedings, Attias was asked about his remorse for the crimes, which was called into question by one of his clinicians, something that Attias said “hurt his feelings.”
“People that question [my remorse] are not people that know me,” he said.
He was also asked about his lack of contact with the victims’ families during the proceedings and responded that his reason for not reaching out to contact them was out of respect.
“I’m sorry. I mean that from the bottom of my heart, and I want to be respectful,” Attias said.
Deputy District Attorney Maggie Charles called Attias’ former CONREP clinician Lisa Bendimez, a forensic psychologist, as a witness.
Charles described Attias as a client who worked hard in therapy and wanted to improve. Nonetheless, Charles and Bendimez also unpacked instances where Bendimez felt that Attias was facing a setback or exhibiting what she deemed as problematic behavior during court.
“He always worked very hard in treatment. He wanted to do well. He wanted to improve and I enjoyed working [with] Mr. Attias,” Bendimez said. “He showed up. He was trying, he really was. I always thought he was trying to improve.”
Bendimez added that she felt Attias behaved in an entitled manner at times, making requests that would not be granted to other clients of CONREP.
One such incident that Bendimez shared was when Attias had called CONREP’s hotline to request a letter of recommendation discussing his progress in therapy for a job. Bendimez told him that the purpose of hotlines was to assist in crises and that they would discuss the letter of recommendation during an individual therapy session.
“When Mr. Attias didn’t get what he wanted, he would become curt and disrespectful sometimes. And that’s something that we tried to work on. He contacted the [supervisor] to email the program director and, in a sense, went over my head and asked that she write that letter for him,” Bendimez said.
Bendimez added that it usually took one or two sessions for Attias to understand why some of his behaviors were problematic.
Attias also said that he did not take issue with the supervision aspect of the CONREP program but rather with the “rigidity.” Some of these rules included telling your clinician prior to engaging in sexual activity and providing a two-week notice for leaving the county. Currently, Attias is at a “supportive” level of care within the program and attends group and individual therapy twice a month.
Setareh Khan-Mohammadi, who previously served as one of Attias’ clinicians and currently works as the community director of Ventura CONREP, told the court that she did not believe Attias should be released from the supervision program.
Instead, Khan-Mohammadi recommended that Attias continue on his treatment plan and eventually be transitioned to “transitional” care and then “after” care within the CONREP program.
“He needs to improve his stress tolerance and expose himself to situations that are uncomfortable,” Khan-Mohammadi said.
She said she believed that his immediate release from the program would “pose an increased risk” to Attias, and that he needed to work on his reactivity to situations that made him uncomfortable before he could be transitioned to lower levels of supervision and care.
Linh Chi, a forensic psychologist who currently works with Attias, shared his current diagnoses with the court — bipolar with manic episodes and psychotic features currently in full remission — and discussed several instances of what she referred to as his “low distress tolerance,” an issue several other clinicians also discussed.
She said that Attias displayed frustration and anger with his 10 p.m. curfew, despite her assurances that they could work to extend the curfew during instances he needed to stay out later.
“He was defensive, argumentative and demanding,” she said of Attias with his request to remove the curfew, which made him “feel like a child,” according to Chi.
Additionally, Chi shared an example of Attias’ “hyperactivity” when he had a false positive for opiates on a urinalysis after eating an everything bagel prior to taking the test, as poppy seeds have produced false positive results. Although she reassured him after meeting with other clinicians that the test would be marked as a false positive on his record, it took several sessions for him to relinquish the issue.
Court will meet again today, where Chi will continue to testify and both parties will present closing arguments before Judge Thomas Adams reaches a decision.
CORRECTION [3/3/2022, 12:54 a.m.: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the 2001 Isla Vista Massacre occurred on Feb. 3. It has now been corrected to say Feb. 23.