insanity defense

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He Said He Faked Insanity, Got Released. Then, Murder

Inside the strange case of Anthony Montwheeler

(Newser) - In December 2016, Anthony Montwheeler, a patient at Oregon State Hospital, went before a state review board and claimed he had faked insanity in 1996, after kidnapping his wife and son at gunpoint, in order to avoid prison. It worked: Rather than being incarcerated, he was sentenced to remain under... More »

SCOTUS Holds Firm on One of Nation's Toughest Laws

High court says states are free to block insanity defense

(Newser) - Facing a challenge from a man sentenced to death for killing four people, the US Supreme Court responded Monday by upholding one of the country's strictest laws on insanity pleas. James Kahler—who claimed he was suffering from depression when he killed his two daughters, their mother, and their... More »

Was Killer Face-Biter Insane? Here's One Take

A psychiatrist says Austin Harrouff was, in fact, out of his mind

(Newser) - A prosecution psychiatrist says a Florida college student was legally insane when he fatally attacked a couple outside their home, chewing off part of the man's face, court documents filed this week show. Gregory Landrum's finding bolsters the case of Austin Harrouff's attorneys, who are planning to... More »

Man Who Murdered 4 in His Family Found Not Guilty

Lovequawn Scott was mentally ill at the time, court says

(Newser) - A South Carolina man who murdered four family members was found not guilty Friday by reason of insanity, WCSC reports. In a bench trial, Jennifer Kneece Shealy of the Ninth Circuit's Solicitor's Office said Lovequawn Scott was clearly ill and had been refused help at a mental health... More »

'Insanity Plea' Cases May Never Be the Same

The US Supreme Court takes up James Kahler's case

(Newser) - The day after Thanksgiving in 2009, James Kahler went to the home of his estranged wife's grandmother, where he shot the two women, along with his two teenage daughters. No one—not even Kahler's attorneys—disputes that he killed the four relatives. Instead, his lawyers argue that he... More »

2nd 'Slender Man' Girl Will Plead Insanity

Both girls will be tried as adults

(Newser) - Both girls in Wisconsin's disturbing "Slender Man" case will now be pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Attorneys for 14-year-old Anissa Weier signaled this week that they want to change her plea in the attempted murder case from not guilty to "NGI," meaning that she'... More »

Judge: Man Can't Have Pension of Wife He Killed

Wash. revisits 'slayer statute' over man who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity

(Newser) - Robert Selland stabbed his wife to death in 2011, admitted doing so, and currently resides in a mental hospital after having been found not guilty by reason of insanity. Now, thanks to a Washington state judge who ruled on Jan. 22 that Selland falls under the state's "slayer... More »

Doctor May Blame Double Murder on Cough Syrup

Louis Chen accused of stabbing partner, 2-year-old son to death

(Newser) - A doctor accused of murdering his partner and their 2-year-old son in 2011 will go on trial in April next year—and he may blame cough syrup for the grisly killings. Louis Chen's defense team in October filed papers signaling that they will argue that the 43-year-old was suffering... More »

Politician Made History With Insanity Plea

Daniel Sickles killed his wife's lover in 1859, and got off

(Newser) - New York Congressman Daniel Sickles put it simply before killing a friend: "Key, you scoundrel, you have dishonored my house—you must die!" But the trial that followed was hardly simple and set a vast historic precedent when Sickles became the first American to successfully plead temporary insanity,... More »

Iowa Teen: I Thought I Killed Goblin, Not Brother

Cody Metzker-Madsen of Iowa is pleading insanity in foster brother's death

(Newser) - An Iowa teenager has testified that when he killed his 5-year-old foster brother, he was in a fantasy world and thought he was killing a goblin. Cody Metzker-Madsen told the western Iowa jury yesterday that he visits a world only he can reach whenever he plays with someone. He says... More »

'Slender Man' Suspect Won't Stand Trial—for Now

Judge decides that Morgan Geyser, 12, isn't competent just yet

(Newser) - One of the girls accused in the so-called "Slender Man" attack won't have to stand trial—at least not yet. After a psychologist's testimony, a judge ruled today that Morgan Geyser, 12, isn't competent to stand trial but probably will be down the road, the Milwaukee ... More »

Dad Not Guilty of Decapitating Disabled Son

Jeremiah Wright was accused of dismembering his boy

(Newser) - A Louisiana man accused of dismembering his disabled, 7-year-old son and leaving his head in a yard was found not guilty by reason of insanity on Friday, WDSU reports. Jeremiah Wright, 32, was arrested in 2011 for the gruesome killing, and told investigators that he believed his son Jori Lirette—... More »

James Holmes Pleads Insanity

Judge accepts plea; mental evaluation to follow

(Newser) - As expected , accused Aurora theater shooter James Holmes pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity today, and a judge accepted the plea—setting the stage for a mental evaluation that could take months. Holmes' lawyers repeatedly have said he is mentally ill, but they delayed the insanity plea while... More »

Holmes Judge to Hear Challenge to Insanity Law

Defense says it's unconstitutional

(Newser) - The judge in the Aurora movie theater shooting case will listen to defense lawyers' arguments against the constitutionality of Colorado's insanity defense law, Reuters reports. The law is unconstitutional, lawyers say, because it says James Holmes can't summon mental health experts of his own choosing—rather than court-appointed... More »

James Holmes to Plead Insane

Attorneys say he'll change to not guilty by reason of insanity

(Newser) - In a not-so-surprising development, accused Aurora shooter James Holmes plans to use the insanity defense. His attorneys filed papers today saying their client intends to plead not guilty by reason of insanity at a hearing next week, reports the Denver Post . If the judge goes along, doctors at a state... More »

James Holmes Could Be Given 'Truth Serum'

Plea due today in Aurora shooting

(Newser) - James Holmes' plea in the Aurora massacre is due today—and if he pleads insanity at the time of the shooting, he could be administered medication to confirm he's telling the truth. In a so-called "narcoanalytic interview," the defendant could receive inhibition-lowering drugs; these may include sodium... More »

Holmes Called School 9 Minutes Before Shooting

Dialed in to switchboard that could reach psychiatrist

(Newser) - Out of yesterday's Aurora massacre hearing: a big new detail and a big setback for Colorado prosecutors.
  • The notebook: Prosecutors have been trying to get their hands on a notebook that James Holmes sent to Dr. Lynne Fenton that reportedly contains a graphic description of his massacre plans. But
... More »

Insanity Defense Gives Holmes' Prosecutors Herculean Task

It would be up to them to prove James Holmes is sane

(Newser) - If James Holmes ends up pleading not guilty by reason of insanity in the Aurora theater massacre, prosecutors will be fighting an uphill battle—because in Colorado, unlike most other states, the burden of proving the defendant is sane lies with the prosecutors. In around 40 other states as well... More »

Holmes Is Insane: Lawyer

Kiss, Motley Crue give $100K to relief fund

(Newser) - James Holmes is as crazy as he looks, his lawyer says. At a hearing yesterday, the lawyer defending the Aurora massacre suspect said he is mentally ill, and urged prosecutors to turn more documents over to the defense, CBS reports. "We cannot begin to assess the depth of Mr.... More »

Breivik Is Sane, Insists ... Defense

Prosecutors disagree as testimony wraps up

(Newser) - It's not exactly the way you'd expect things to shake out: Prosecutors want Anders Breivik ruled criminally insane—but the confessed killer's own lawyers say he knew what he was doing, Reuters reports. "Breivik wishes to be punished for his actions—that is, to be treated... More »

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