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Insanity Defense

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NEWS
April 11, 1989 | By Kurt Heine, Daily News Staff Writer
Standing in the back of the tiny City Hall courtroom yesterday was Tanya Dacri's only supporter. Estranged from her parents, stripped of her year-old daughter, accused of drowning and butchering her 7-week-old son, Dacri has been split from the rest of her world for three months by jail-cell bars. All she has is her husband, Phillip, with whom she mouthed an "I love you" exchange across the crowded courtroom. Then she blew him a kiss. But Phillip Dacri wasn't enough for a Common Pleas judge to release the young mother on low bail.
NEWS
November 21, 1996 | BY JAY CENTIFANI
The Pennsylvania Senate recently voted 40-8 to abolish the insanity defense - the legal principle that persons of unsound mind are not responsible for criminal actions. This week, the House Judiciary Committee will consider the matter. Twenty-one years ago, as a young attorney, I was charged with aggravated assault during an episode of acute mental illness. My plea agreement and resulting 2 1/2-year commitment to Norristown State Hospital were possible only because of the insanity defense.
NEWS
April 18, 1991 | by Kathy Brennan, Daily News Staff Writer
Staring blankly ahead, mouth slightly open, Dr. Jean-Claude Hill listened to witnesses describe how a man who looked just like him opened fire on four insurance executives last week. "After he shot them, he walked very calmly, as if it were another day in the park, so to speak, very calmly . . . back to his car," said eyewitness Dan Gallagher of Chicago, who said he had been eating egg rolls on a park bench "on the 50-yard line" of the murder scene on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway April 8. After about an hour of testimony during a preliminary hearing yesterday, Hill, a 29-year-old native of Virginia, was held for trial in the slaying of Cigna executive Peter Foy III and the wounding of two of Foy's colleagues.
NEWS
December 3, 1988 | By Kurt Heine, Daily News Staff Writer
After an insanity defense was ruled out, Arthur Faulkner's lawyer said he had no opening statement to the jury, no witnesses. No case. Faulkner, facing two death penalties in a Lower Merion stabbing spree, was sunk, said defense lawyer Robert A. Selig. And his Montgomery County Court murder trial hadn't even begun. As Faulkner fidgeted in a courtroom yesterday, waiting for his trial to start, Judge Samuel W. Salus II ruled in a back room that Faulkner's insanity defense - his only defense for stabbing to death two women and seriously wounding his two bosses at the small archaeological firm where he worked - was too flimsy to mention to jurors.
NEWS
March 20, 2002 | By Kevin Walker
After more than three weeks of testimony, it took a Texas jury less than four hours to convict Andrea Yates of capital murder in the drowning of her five children. That's barely enough time for a cup of coffee, a doughnut, and a bathroom break during deliberations. In retrospect, it appears the jurors considered Yates' mental illness in mitigation (it took the same jurors less than 40 minutes to decide to spare her life), but they were not about to accept it as a legal excuse.
NEWS
May 15, 1987 | By Michael E. Ruane, Inquirer Staff Writer
A bedraggled Gary Michael Heidnik, saluting twice and answering only "yes, sir" to questions from a judge, pleaded not guilty yesterday to the host of charges against him. After the court proceeding, his attorney, A. Charles Peruto Jr., said he was convinced that Heidnik is "completely insane" and would argue at trial that Heidnik is insane. Heidnik, who is charged with murdering two women and raping and torturing four others who were kept chained in a basement dungeon in his house in the city's Franklinville section, entered his plea at a formal arraignment in City Hall.
NEWS
September 6, 2005 | By Troy Graham INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
When former Superior Court Judge Stephen W. Thompson goes on trial this week, he will not deny that he collected child pornography and traveled to Russia to have sex with an underage boy. Instead, Thompson, who sat on the bench in Camden County until his arrest in 2003, will argue that he was actually trying to recapture the "virility" he lost on a Vietnam battlefield 36 years ago. Thompson, 59, lost his right leg during hand-to-hand combat....
NEWS
May 24, 1995 | By Cynthia J. McGroarty, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Although the insanity plea has become a staple of high-profile murder cases in the United States, few people may know that the plea has roots in the 18th century English court system. In fact, pleading insanity was not just done by murder suspects but by suspects accused of crimes ranging from burglary to forgery to stealing spoons or sheep, according to Joel Eigen, a sociology professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster whose book Witnessing Insanity: Madness and Mad- doctors in the English Court was published by Yale University Press last month.
NEWS
April 15, 1988 | By KURT HEINE, Daily News Staff Writer
Harrison "Marty" Graham's insanity defense appeared to wobble yesterday when his psychiatrist said the accused North Philadelphia serial murderer might have been sane during parts of his sex-strangling spree. Defense psychiatrist Timothy J. Michals, testifying about Graham's claim that he was insane when he killed the seven women whose rotting corpses were found in his fetid two-room apartment, said Graham wouldn't tell him about five of the seven slayings. But Michals acknowledged that Graham appeared to have known he was doing wrong when he stuffed one of those victims in a duffel bag and bound another in several wire-wrapped sheets.
NEWS
February 26, 1997
With its verdict yesterday of guilty but mentally ill against multimillionaire John E. du Pont, a Delaware County jury exacted some measure of justice for the family of Olympic wrestler David Schultz, whom Du Pont gunned down last January. This was a difficult trial for the family. Mr. Schultz's mother, father and widow, who witnessed the killing herself, have had to relive events no family should experience once. As the ordeal drew to a close, father Phillip Schultz talked of seeing visions of his dead son - a miracle, in his mind; a manifestation, at the very least, of soul-wrenching grief.
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NEWS
August 15, 2014 | By Carolyn Davis, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Montgomery County judge on Wednesday ruled Joseph McAndrew Jr. guilty but mentally ill of first-degree murder for fatally stabbing his parents and twin brother in King of Prussia in 2011. The verdict from Common Pleas Court Judge Gary S. Silow capped a three-day bench trial in which McAndrew and his lawyer sought to convince the judge that he was not guilty by reason of insanity when he used a sword to kill his father, Joseph; his mother, Susan; and his brother, James, in their Holstein Road home.
NEWS
March 29, 2013 | By Dan Elliott and P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press
DENVER - Attorneys for the suspect in the Colorado theater shootings said Wednesday that he wanted to plead guilty and avoid the death penalty. The offer comes just days before the prosecution was set to announce whether they would seek to have James Holmes put to death for the attack that killed 12 people and injured 70. Prosecutors would not say Wednesday whether they would go along with a life sentence, and likely will consult with victims...
NEWS
March 7, 2013 | By Aubrey Whelan, Inquirer Staff Writer
An Upper Merion man charged with murdering his parents and twin brother two years ago is petitioning Montgomery County Orphans' Court for access to his mother's $1 million estate, in part to pay for his defense. The court-appointed guardian of Joseph McAndrew, 24, filed paperwork in Orphans' Court this week contending that McAndrew needs the money for psychiatric treatment and defense fees. The Slayer's Act, a state law, prohibits a "slayer" from receiving any property or benefits after a victim's death.
NEWS
January 12, 2013 | By Dan Elliott and Thomas Peipert, Associated Press
CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A judge on Friday delayed the arraignment of the man charged with the Colorado theater shooting until March despite objections from prosecutors and most of the survivors and their families. District Judge William Sylvester ruled Thursday night that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence at a preliminary hearing to proceed toward trial on charges that James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at a suburban Denver movie theater on July 20. Holmes, 25, who is charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder, won't have to enter a plea until March 12 after the judge granted a defense motion to delay that proceeding.
NEWS
December 13, 2012
NEW YORK - The man charged with killing a 6-year-old New York City boy in 1979 pleaded not guilty Wednesday to murder, even though police say he confessed in the sensational case - an admission his attorney says is false. Pedro Hernandez, 51, wore a gray sweat suit and answered "not guilty" at the hearing in the notorious case of Etan Patz, whose disappearance helped spawn the movement to publicize cases of missing children. Hernandez's defense will revolve around his mental state, but he isn't pursuing an insanity defense, his attorney, Harvey Fishbein, has said.
NEWS
September 11, 2012 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A Lawncrest woman who said she believed coworkers had sprayed her with toxic chemicals was found guilty of murder Monday in the 2010 shootings at the Kraft-Nabisco Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia. Yvonne Hiller was found guilty by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner of two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and reckless endangerment involving three other coworkers and a police officer she shot at but missed during the night-shift rampage Sept.
NEWS
September 11, 2012 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Lawncrest woman who said she believed coworkers had sprayed her with toxic chemicals was found guilty of murder Monday in the 2010 shootings at the Kraft-Nabisco Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia. Yvonne Hiller was found guilty by Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner of two counts of first-degree murder, attempted murder, and reckless endangerment involving three other coworkers and a police officer she shot at but missed during the night-shift rampage Sept. 9, 2010.
NEWS
March 20, 2012 | By Joseph A. Gambardello, Inquirer Staff Writer
One thing highlighted by the reams of documents recently released in the Howard Unruh case is how he disappeared into a legal wormhole for more than two decades after he killed 13 people in East Camden in 1949. How such a high-profile case could get lost for so long is a reflection of its time in history and how the law has been slow to evolve in dealing with the criminally insane. After the Sept. 6, 1949, massacre, Unruh essentially was locked away in Trenton State Hospital under the signatures of four psychiatrists on a one-page, four-paragraph letter to then-Camden County Prosecutor Mitchell H. Cohen.
NEWS
September 1, 2011
IT'S CLEAR that columnist Stu Bykofsky disagrees not just with me, but also with the Daily News editorial board ( Aug. 26, "What Is Philadelphia's Immigration Policy?" ), President Obama, hundreds of advocacy groups and ICE itself on this complex civil-rights issue. While I understand that Mr. Bykofsky is an opinion writer, that doesn't give him a license to misrepresent my position or ignore any facts that are inconvenient to his worldview. ICE's own data, included in our resolution, clearly shows that since the time of the arrestee information-sharing agreement, the immigration service has failed to identify and deport the most dangerous offenders and has continued to deport witnesses and innocent crime victims, separating parents from their American-born children.
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