Sunday, August 19, 2012

Famous Insanity Cases

Famous Insanity Cases - As criminal proceedings begin for accused Aurora, Colo., shooter James Holmes, there is speculation his attorneys will seek an insanity defense. The legal strategy sometimes helps and sometimes hinders the accused. Here are some of the most famous cases where the insanity defense was used. James Holmes trial, James Holmes insanity defense, See whether they worked.

James Holmes

When/where: 2012, Aurora, Colo.

The charges: The accused killer of 12 people at a movie theater during the midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises" is charged with 24 counts of first-degree murder.

His insanity defense: Defense attorneys have yet to plead insanity, but he was seeing a psychiatrist who specializes in this disorder at this university.
Anthony Sowell

When/where: 2009, Cleveland, Ohio

The charges: Sowell was charged with 85 counts of rape, kidnapping and murder in the disappearance of 11 women. Known by this nickname, he hid the bodies of his victims throughout his house and in his backyard.

His insanity defense: Initially he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but after the judge asked for a psychiatric evaluation his lawyers changed his plea to not guilty.
John Evander Couey

When/where: 2007, Miami

The charges: The convicted sex offender was charged with capital murder in the death of 12-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Additionally he was charged with burglary, battery, kidnapping and sexual assault.

His insanity defense: Attorneys argued that he suffered from lifelong mental abuse and had a low IQ 
Mary Winkler

When/where: 2006, Selmer, Tenn.

The charges: The wife of preacher Matthew Winkler was charged with first-degree murder in his shooting death. Winkler shot her husband after a fight about money.

Her insanity defense: She claimed that for years she suffered from mental and physical abuse by her husband.
Lisa Montgomery

When/where: 2003, Melvern, Kansas

The charges: Montgomery was charged with kidnapping resulting in death in the murder of eight-months-pregnant Bobbi Jo Stinnett.

Her insanity defense: Defense attorneys claimed she suffered from this condition, and had a history of sexual abuse and this disorder.
Lee Malvo

When/where: 2002, Washington, D.C. area

The charges: The accomplice to the D.C. Sniper was charged with one count of capital murder in the death of an FBI analyst, a terrorism charge and a firearms violation, after the pair terrorized the D.C. area for weeks. A total of 14 people were shot and 10 people died from the sniper-style shootings.

His insanity defense: Because of his association with John Allen Muhammad, defense attorneys used this strategy of defense for his insanity plea.
Andrea Yates

When/where: 2002, Houston

The charges: Yates was charged with five counts of capital murder after drowning all five of her children in the bathtub.

Her insanity defense: In 2002 defense attorneys pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. But in 2005 she appealed the ruling after a witness for the prosecution admitted to giving false testimony in her original trial
Andrew Goldstein

When/where: 2000, New York

The charges: Goldstein was charged with first-degree murder after pushing Kendra Webdale in front of a subway train.

His insanity defense: In his first trial, Goldstein, who had a history with this disorder, pleaded that he was in a psychotic episode when he pushed her. It ended with a hung jury and went to a second trial where the jury reached a verdict.
John du Pont

When/where: 1997, Newton Township, Pa.

The charges: The philanthropist and millionaire was charged with the murder of an Olympic wrestler after shooting him in his driveway.

His insanity defense: Du Pont pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and experts and witnesses testified that he suffered from this disorder. He believed people were out to kill him and took extensive security measures on his mansion.
Jonathan Schmitz

When/where: 1996, Lake Orion, Mich.

The charges: Schmitz was charged with first-degree murder and assault with a firearm after killing Scott Amedure. Amedure revealed his crush for Schmitz on ataping for this popular daytime talk show.

His insanity defense: Schmitz had a history of mental illness, and defense attorneys tried to use this controversial defense considering the nature of the case.
Colin Ferguson

When/where: 1995, Garden City, N.Y.

The charges: Ferguson was charged with 93 counts, including first-degree murder, attempted murder and assault after opening fire on a commuter train and killing six people and injuring 19.

His insanity defense: Ferguson's defense attorneys used this new defense based on racial prejudice. Ferguson rejected that defense and eventually represented himself in the bizarre trial.
Lorena Bobbitt

When/where: 1993, Manassas, Va.

The charges: Bobbitt severed her husband's penis and then disposed of it as a payback for years of mental and sexual abuse from her husband.

Her insanity defense: She pleaded temporary insanity, and doctors also claimed she suffered from this disorder after the years of abuse.
Jeffrey Dahmer

When/where: 1992, Milwaukee

The charges: Initially charged with 17 counts of murder but reduced to 15, Dahmer was tried for a decade-long murder spree of men and boys. 

His insanity defense: Dahmer confessed to the killings but pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His grisly murders included rape, cannibalism and dismemberment.
John Hinckley

When/where: 1982, Washington, D.C.

The charges: After as assassination attempt on this president, Hinckley was charged with 13 counts of attempted murder and assault.

His insanity defense: With a history of mental illness, Hinckley used the shooting as a way to impress this teen actress over whom he obsessed. Hinckley pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity
Ted Bundy

When/where: 1980, Orlando, Fla.

The charges: The notorious serial killer was charged with the murder and kidnapping of junior high school student Kimberly Leach. Before that, Bundy had been charged in other murders and had escaped from authorities.

His insanity defense: Normally representing himself, Bundy allowed his defense lawyers to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.
John Wayne Gacy

When/where: 1980, Chicago

The charges: Charged with the murders of 33 men and young boys between 1972 and 1978, Gacy buried his victims in the crawl space of his house.

His insanity defense: Defense attorneys pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and experts testified that Gacy suffered from this rare disorder and this disorder.
Kenneth Bianchi & Angelo Buono

When/where: 1979, Los Angeles and Bellingham, Wash.

The charges: Murderous cousins Bianchi and Buono, known as the Hillside Stranglers, were charged separately for their crimes that included the rape and murder of 10 women in Los Angeles and two women in Bellingham, Wash.

Their insanity defense: Bianchi pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and claimed to have this rare disorder. He eventually changed his plea and testified against Buono.
David Berkowitz

When/where: 1978, New York

The charges: Known by this iconic nickname, the serial killer was charged with murdering six people and wounding seven others between 1976 and 1977.

His insanity defense: Berkowitz pleaded guilty to the murders but stated that he was directed to kill by a demon possessing his neighbor's dog.
Ed Gein

When/where: 1957, Plainfield, Wis.

The charges: The notorious serial killer was charged with only one count of first-degree murder in the death of hardware store owner Bernice Worden. But a search of his house of horrors proved there may have been more victims.

His insanity defense: He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was found mentally unfit to stand trial.
Ezra Pound

When/where: 1946, Washington, D.C.

The charges: The renowned poet was charged with treason against the United States for his outspoken support of this dictator-style ideology.

His insanity defense: Pound was found incompetent to stand trial and avoided being tried. Psychiatrists diagnosed Pound with this disorder.
Anthony & William Esposito

When/where: 1941, New York

The charges: The brothers robbed a payroll truck, murdered an office manager, and William killed the police officer who was chasing them down.

Their insanity defense: Defense attorneys tried using this form of defense to prove their insanity. During the trial the brothers exhibited bizarre behavior to aid in their defense.
John Schrank

When/where: 1912, Milwaukee

The charges: Schrank was charged with attempting to assassinate this president outside a hotel. The bullet hit the president but didn't kill him.

His insanity defense: Schrank didn't enter a plea, but doctors determined he was insane. He later stated that in a dream, this former president had appeared and ordered him to kill the president.
Charles Guiteau

When/where: 1881, Washington, D.C.

The charges: The political radical was charged with assassinating this president, who died 11 weeks after being shot.

His insanity defense: Despite his wish to represent himself, Guiteau's attorneys pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Multiple experts testified that he'd been insane all along, and Guiteau exhibited erratic courtroom behavior during the trial.
Daniel Sickles

When/where: 1859, Washington, D.C.

The charges: The military general and politician was charged with the murder of his wife's lover, District Attorney Phillip Barton Key.

His insanity defense: Sickles was the first to plead temporary insanity in the United States.
Richard Lawrence

When/where: 1835, Washington, D.C.

The charges: Believing he was the king of England, the former painter was charged with the attempted assassination of this president.

His insanity defense: Lawrence had a history of mental illness and believed Jackson had killed his father. It's speculated that he suffered from this disorder.
Daniel McNaughton

When/where: 1843, London

The charges: The Scottish man was charged with the murder of Edward Drummond after shooting him in the back at close range in front of a crowd.

His insanity defense: McNaughton confessed to the killing, and authorities had known about his mental state for months before the incident. He was one of the first people to use a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity and underwent a groundbreaking trial that set the precedent for further defenses.