June 16, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Insanity Defense Applies At the Time of Commission of the Act

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in People v. Eastwood on Thursday, October 22, 2015.

Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity—Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds—Attempted Murder—Assault—Child Abuse Resulting in Injury.

Defendant took a loaded rifle to his former middle school, where he shot and injured two students. A jury found him not guilty by reason of insanity on 10 of 11 counts, but guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon on school grounds.

On appeal, defendant contended that the evidence was not sufficient for a jury to conclude that he was sane when he unlawfully possessed a weapon on school grounds. Whereas the charged crimes of attempted murder, assault, and child abuse resulting in injury were limited to the few seconds in which defendant fired his rifle, the weapon possession charge spanned a longer time period. The jury could have viewed the evidence as demonstrating that, before the shooting, defendant was able to rationally interact with the clerk at the sporting goods store, the restaurant employee, and staff members and children at the school.

Further, some of the experts’ testimony supported the conclusion that although defendant was insane when he fired the shots at the children, he was able to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct at other times that day. Taken together, the lay person and expert testimony was sufficient for the jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was sane when he arrived at the school with a rifle, even if the jury was not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant was sane when he actually fired the shots later that afternoon. The judgment, sentence, and order were affirmed.

Summary and full case available here, courtesy of The Colorado Lawyer.

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