Senate Passes Bill Named After Slain Labor Commissioner

Tuesday, March 15th 2016, 6:08 pm
By: Aaron Brilbeck

The state Senate has passed a bill that would allow for court ordered outpatient treatment for the mentally ill. 

House Bill 1697, also called the Mark Costello bill, recognizes that often those with mental illness stop taking their medication and that can lead to tragedy.

No one knows that better than Cathy Costello. She wiped away tears today as members of the state Senate gave her a standing ovation. 

Costello’s son, Christian, is charged in connection with the stabbing death her husband, former state Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. 

She said the bill that passed in the Senate Tuesday would have prevented that. 

“I do believe that if we’d had this law six months ago, Mark Costello would be standing here speaking to you instead of me,” Cathy Costello said.

House Bill 1697 would allow court ordered treatment of the mentally ill if they are 18 or older; in the care of the Department of Mental Health; if they are a danger to themselves or others and if they stop taking their medication. 

That was the case with Christian Costello; his mother said he is diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. 

“He has been hospitalized ten times by the age of 26.  A year ago, five times in a 12-week period,” Cathy Costello said. “He should have been on court ordered medication coming out.”

But he wasn’t. 

And Costello said her family has paid a terrible price because of it. 

“I am shattered. Brokenhearted. There’s a hole in my heart and soul that will always be there but I’m going to try to do something good and they (the Senate) have done something good to help Oklahomans," Cathy Costello said. “I know Mark is looking down from Heaven and he is happy.  He’s happy.”