Wilson on trial after attack on Baha'is at Bosch (Boony Doon.)
Wilson In Court Bus Hijacker Once Thought Of Committing Mass Murder By PEGGY R. TOWNSEND Sentinel Staff Writer Thomas Benton Wilson is a loner who at one time had fantasies of committing a mass murder and suffered from repeated hallucinations. That description emerged Tuesday as Wilson took the stand in a jury trial to determine if he should be released from a state mental hospital. Wilson, 27, was arrested last year after he hijacked a city bus and held 67 persons hostage at the Baha'i religious retreat in Bonny Doon. His trial, which is now under way in Santa Cruz Superior Court, is expected to last today and Thursday, according to George Kovacevich, assistant district attorney. Wilson took the stand Tuesday afternoon to tell of his experiences in Atascadero State Hospital following the hijacking incident. He also talked of repeated hallucinations, his fantasies of mass murder and the time he kidnapped a woman at knifepoint from the Camarillo State Hospital. However, Wilson maintained on the stand, "I don't believe I am a danger at this time." Wilson told the jury, "I've been a loner most of my life. I don't get involved with people too much." He said drugs especially marijuana contributed to his outbursts of violence. "I know now I just can't handle it (marijuana)," said Wilson. "I get paranoid when I use it. I have no desire to use it." Following that statement, Kovacevich pointed out that Wilson had vowed before never to use drugs. "I never really meant it" was Wilson's explanation. Wilson also said for about three years in the mid-60s he had fantasies of committing a mass murder. But, he said, those fantasies did not exist anymore and were not a part of the hostage incident in Bonny Doon. He also admitted he held a woman at knifepoint and forced her to drive him to Bakersfield from a Camarillo mental hospital. That incident occurred after a social worker told him he was not going to be allowed to leave the hospital. "I walked around the hospital grounds and decided I'm going to get someone to take me home," said Wilson. That's when he spotted the woman and ordered her to drive him to Bakersfield, he said. Wilson, under questioning from Kovacevich, described his time in Atascadero State Hospital. He said he was involved in "altercations" at the hospital, but claimed they were provoked by other inmates or occurred when he was having a "bad day." Wilson also said he had suffered from hallucinations and flashbacks. On occasion, he said, he would walk into his room and see someone standing "in my room with his face covered with blood." He also said his hallucinations supported his dislike for the Baha'i faith. He held 67 hostages at the Baha'i retreat, then released them unharmed.