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UCSB 'Angel of Death' who killed 4 in 2001 to be released

David Attias in June 2012 waiting to talk with a judge during a special hearing.
David Attias in June 2012 waiting to talk with a judge during a special hearing.

On most Friday nights many of the streets in Isla Vista (the densely-populated college town next door to UC Santa Barbara) are teeming with students casually strolling from party to party: laughing, singing, being young. 

February 23, 2001 was no different until 18-year-old David Attias hit the gas of his 1991 Saab and plowed into five pedestrians, killing four. Witnesses said he yelled "I am the Angel of Death" and tried to stop onlookers from giving aid to the injured. 

That night on Sabado Tarde, Attias killed Nicholas Bourdakis, 20; Christopher Divis, 20; Ruth Levy, 20; and Elie Israel, 27, in what locals still call The Isla Vista Massacre. Levy's 27-year-old brother, Albert Levy, survived but sustained debilitating injuries.

Attias pled "Not Guilty By Reason Of Insanity" and even though the jury found him guilty of four counts of murder, they also found him not guilty by reason of insanity during the sanity phase, according to KEYT in Santa Barbara. He was sent to Patton State Hospital, a mental health facility where he remains today, but will soon be released.

Earlier this summer Attias took part in a six day special hearing to determine if he could be released from Patton State.  

"Are you mentally ill?" asked Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman.

"Yes, I am," responded Attias.

"Do you agree your mental illness is severe?" Waldman asked.

"Yes, I do," said Attias, who later added that he's ready to move out of the locked Patton State hospital and into the community with supervision, reported KCOY.

On Tuesday, Judge Thomas R. Adams agreed that Attias, now 30, can be released into an unlocked community facility. 

"My goal in fighting against the release of David Attias into the community was to protect our community from a seriously mentally ill dangerous young man who has a demonstrated long history of: previous violence, drug abuse, non-compliance with taking psychiatric medications and non-compliance with psychotherapy," Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman wrote in a statement.

"I believe it's not a matter of if he will ever become violent again but simply when and that is a chance that the public should not have to tolerate. While I am disappointed with the ruling, I respect Judge Adams and I know that he took this case very seriously and listened carefully to all of the evidence," she wrote.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Attias's public defender, Deedrea Edgar said Tuesday that under the terms of the release he'll still be supervised around the clock and does not intend to seek reinstatement of his driver's license.

Attias's father is a successful television director with credits from "The Sopranos" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to "Ally McBeal".