Laura Gibbs was brutally murdered by her 14-year-old great grandson when he stabbed her repeatedly with a samurai sword. Gevin Prince now sits behind bars charged as an adult in that horrific slaying.
A second victim, the boy's grandmother Laura, narrowly survived that attack. She is speaking out for the first time only to CBS Atlanta's Wendy Saltzman about the details of that night, and how Georgia's mental health system failed her family.
"I started noticing that things were different with him when he was about 18 months old. We had been kicked out of every daycare center in the county. They asked us not to come back," Laura Prince told Saltzman.
Prince said the clues that Gevin would one day be dangerous span back almost 13 years before. This is the first time she has spoken to anyone on camera to tell us Gevin's story.
"It just started getting worse and worse as he hit puberty. He started becoming more argumentative and combative," Prince said.
Prince described her grandson as a carefree kid one minute, but in a second he'd swirl into a violent rage.
"It was like somebody I didn't know. He changed physically. Just became almost evil. The whole demeanor, whole face changed. I knew right then I might as well start calling 911. I called it so often all I had to say was the address and they knew," Prince said.
Officers were called to the home at least three documented times before the 2011 murder.
"Prior to this, one of our investigators took him into custody, and had him evaluated. But that is a very short 24, 36, 48-hour process and then if they don't find anything that is very serious - they are right back out at home here," Douglas County Sheriff Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said.
"They would always take him to the psychiatric ward in chains on his ankles, around his waist. And nine times out of 10 they would send him home saying they couldn't find a bed for him or they don't have room for him. And I was like, ‘So you are going to send him back home without doing anything?' Because now he's back to Gevin, sweet, laughing, making jokes," Prince continued.
But sweet Gevin didn't last long. On August 15, 2011, just a few weeks after Gevin was released from a short stint at his third psychiatric hospital, deputies were called in one last time.
"He got on my back, and he took the back of my neck and my chin, and he started twisting my head. And I was yelling, ‘Gevin get off of me you are hurting me, and you know you don't want to hurt me.' He said, ‘Yes I do. I want to break your neck.' From there on it was just chaos," Prince said, describing the details of that fatal night.
The catalyst for the attack was Prince told Gevin he couldn't play a video game.
"He crashes through the door and knocks me out. And he stood on my throat. I literally saw the light fading," Prince said.
That's when she says Gevin grabbed a decorative samurai sword and started attacking.
"He started hacking at me. And I kept yelling for mother to go to her room. I held my arm up because he was going at me," Prince continued.
Gevin then turned his attack on his great grandmother.
"By that time I'm crawling to the bathroom which is the next door and I closed it and he saw me and he started stabbing the door. I passed out on the bathroom floor. I thought I was bleeding to death. There was blood everywhere. And I don't know what happened. The next thing I know the police were there," Prince said.
"When deputies arrived we found Gevin with a sword, he was on the porch," Copeland said. "He ran outside, towards the victim that was in the yard, and actually stabbed her with the sword. We sent a K-9 up to try to take the sword out and or get his attention. Once he started concentrating on the K-9, we were able to get in a position to deploy the Taser."
Officers were able to get Gevin in custody without harm. He has been charged and indicted as an adult. He's facing life without parole for a crime he doesn't even remember.
"Gevin they are going to put in a mental institution under lock and key until he is declared competent to stand trial. And then it could be 40 years, 50 years, and then he has got to serve the rest of his life," Prince said.
"Gevin is still in jail. He is a little difficult to deal with in the jail. He just needs a little more care than adult inmates do. It just taxes the system all the way around. I would rather see these people get the mental help that they need. Because I have got a jail full of them," Copeland said.
"I think it's a good question, and that question has been out there, are we failing our kids? I think we can all do a better of engaging the parents in helping us solve the problem. I think there have been times where the systems have failed. I have seen it," said Georgia's new Commissioner for the Department of Behavioral Health Frank Berry.
Berry sat down with us to answer our Tough Questions after being on the job just three days.
"I feel strongly that one of the biggest gaps in our system is true service coordination. You are either in crisis, or you are getting outpatient care. There are a whole bunch of things that can happen in between that," Berry said.
One of Berry's top priorities will be creating a tracking system for these kids in crisis, between Juvenile Justice, schools, DFACS, and mental health providers to make sure they are getting the help they need, and that they don't fall through the cracks.
"We can do a better job, I absolutely recognize that we can do a better job, but we are going to need people from outside to help us," Berry continued.
Gevin was in and out of mental hospitals, but his grandmother says he was never diagnosed.
"I kept hoping maybe they would do some good. But it was a babysitting service is all it was," Prince said.
Berry has committed to finding out how the system failed Gevin, and parents who feel abandoned by the state.
"I think maybe one of the best things to do is to go back and meet with that family and find out, if they'd be willing, and find out at what point did you feel like the system broke down. We need to do a better job of listening to parents and learning from them, where did the system break down in your mind. At what point did you say, OK, if I don't get this, something bad is going to happen," Berry said.
"I think he could have had a chance at a life," Prince cried.
But Gevin's chance is now gone.
"He will never have a date, he will never have a girlfriend, have his first kiss, go to the prom. He will never finish high school," Prince said. "I don't want him to spend the rest of his life in a box. And I am afraid that is what they are going to do. They are going to put him somewhere, lock the door and he will get nothing."
The Tough Question now is what will Georgia do under Berry's guidance to save these other children?
"It is going to happen again, not with Gevin, but it is going to happen, it is going to happen with another child," Prince said.
Gevin has been sitting in the Douglas County Jail for a year now, with little if any mental health treatment waiting for a judge to determine if he's competent to stand trial.
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved
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