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Intensive probation, treatment ordered in stabbing

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An Edinburgh man will not spend time in prison after stabbing his mother and causing a standoff with police last year.

Alex Harper, 24, instead will have frequent checkup visits with probation officers and must complete mental health and substance abuse treatment.

He is required to receive treatment for drug addiction, get counseling and stay on medications for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, his attorney Andy Roesener said.

Harper will spend about 4½ years on intensive probation, which could include probation officers coming to his home to make sure he is taking his medications and following his treatment schedule. If he fails to meet those requirements, Harper would be sent to prison for the rest of his probation term, Roesener said.

Harper pleaded guilty to criminal recklessness, a Class D felony. He originally was charged with a more serious crime, aggravated battery, but pleaded guilty to the lower level felony. He also pleaded guilty to charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia from an arrest after the original battery charge.

Police said Harper pierced his mother’s forearm with a 6-inch steak knife after they got into an argument in their Edinburgh home in March 2013. Harper pushed a dresser in front of his bedroom door, and a police officer had to use a metal bar to push the dresser away from the door in order to get inside and arrest him. Harper had guns in the room, including a sawed-off shotgun, but told police he had intended to shoot himself.

Harper had not taken his medications for three days prior to the incident, a police report said.

In September, Harper was arrested after police found he had methamphetamine. His bond was revoked, and he spent 251 days in jail until his sentencing last week.

Police had been called to Harper’s house at least three times before the March 2013 arrest, and each time he barricaded himself in the house. In January 2012, Harper locked himself in the house with a rifle, and a police SWAT team had to use tear gas before they could enter the house and get the gun away from him.

Roesener argued that Harper could get more help if he stayed at home with supervision from his family and probation officers. He will be required to get treatment with Adult and Child Center, a mental health facility, Roesener said.

“His symptoms are worse, and, as is often the case, he’ll try to treat the symptoms with street drugs. The court acknowledged that’s a real concern. There’s a significant health issue and a significant substance abuse issue, and you can’t just treat one,” Roesener said.

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