The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office elected not to prosecute Terri Zinser. But now the office says it will review the case.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office said it plans to reinvestigate a high-profile case involving a woman who walked into a house in northeast Portland and curled up on the empty bed. a 10-year-old child last Monday.
The woman, later identified by authorities as Terri Zinser, broke into Kelsey Smith’s home. Home security video shows the woman walking towards a child’s bedroom and curling up on the bed next to a pile of laundry.
Zinser lay there on the bed until Smith fell on top of her and yelled at the stranger to leave. Zinser then got up from the bed and went to leave, but not before throwing a poof at Smith. She is then seen on video exiting through the front door.
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The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office initially elected not to prosecute Zinser. But now the office says it will review the case.
As for why they initially chose not to press charges, the prosecutor’s office said what Zinser really needs is mental health treatment, not jail time. But according to a statement, Zinser declined to participate in voluntary treatment — and involuntary treatment, they said, is unlikely to occur.
“Based on recent Federal Court decisions and the recent history of this defendant having similar cases dismissed due to a lack of participation in treatment and the court’s failure to compel the defendant to participate in treatment, we had initial concerns about whether we could proceed with this case at this time,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement sent to KGW.
This reasoning is consistent with the results of a KGW survey conducted last month on the civil engagement process. The bar for involuntary mental health treatment in Oregon is incredibly high, and the most acute patients are often unable or unwilling to engage in less invasive forms of treatment.
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“The lack of mental health resources in our community is unacceptable when coupled with the inability to compel untried defendants to engage in available treatment options,” the prosecutor’s office continued. “The current capacity crisis at Oregon State Hospital puts the safety of our community and the most vulnerable people in our community at risk.”
According to the prosecutor’s office, Zinser recently spent several months at Oregon State Hospital, and staff were unable to restore him to the ability to aid and assist his attorney-at-law. ‘office. She was then ordered to undergo community mental health treatment, but she did not show up for her assessment and left the treatment facility.
“Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Nan Waller dismissed previous charges pending against her in early August,” the prosecutor’s office said. “Our Strategic Prosecutions Unit is reviewing this case and previously dismissed cases to determine if we are able to pursue prosecution. Due to the ongoing process, MCDA will not be commenting further on this matter.”
Since 2018, Zinser has faced criminal charges more than two dozen times, mostly for theft, criminal trespassing, burglary or harassment. The vast majority of those charges have been dropped by prosecutors or dismissed by judges without conviction, although a June 2021 Clackamas County case remains open pending a determination of fitness to proceed. A hearing on that decision was scheduled for Monday.
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