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Discussion » Questions » Current Events and News » Let me get this straight: if a murderer is determined to be mentally ill, does that make the victim(s) any less dead?

Let me get this straight: if a murderer is determined to be mentally ill, does that make the victim(s) any less dead?

 EDIT:

To be clear, my question is facetious and its origins are borne of rife frustration at the rush to claim mental illness as an excuse why someone has murdered someone else. It’s as if to say, “Well, victim’s family, this death is due to the murderer’s mental problem, so it’s ok.”  While I know that is not an accurate rendition, it is an approximation.

A majority of you who have answered so far have brought up points about different aftermaths that are applied in cases of murderers being found legally under some type of protection from certain types of “punishments” that would normally face those convicted of this crime. I understand your positions and acknowledge their validity. However, the focus of what I was trying to get across is not about the penalty phase, it’s about the “mental-illness-lessens-the-severity-of-this-murder” phase, which at the same time makes the loss of life less important.

:(

Posted - March 30

Responses


  • 7660
    It's an excuse.  Lawyers love to use it too.
      March 30, 2021 4:56 PM MDT
    2

  • 14382
    No, lawyers don't love to use it.  It is very hard to win on an insanity defense. 
      April 1, 2021 12:31 PM MDT
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  • 11964
    It means that the Second Amendment should NOT apply. Nutters shouldn't be allowed to drive cars either. The victims of the recent Colorado shooting would still be alive if the mentally ill perp hadn't been armed.
    John Kennedy (R - Louisiana) shot himself in the foot with his ridiculous guns vs cars analogy. Drivers are required to be licensed and their cars registered - PRECISELY what gun control advocates are petitioning for as a minimum, guns to be registered and owners licensed.
      March 30, 2021 5:03 PM MDT
    1

  • 42221

     

      Not all murders are the results of firearms, even though it’s probably possible that more than 51% of them are. Achieve gun control and humans will still have ways to murder other humans. Heck, for centuries before firearms ever existed, humans have always been quite adept at bumping each other off. Additionally, separate gun-involved murders from those of other methods, and then calculate those legal cases of each stripe wherein the accused or the convicted are deemed mentally incompetent or mentally not responsible for their actions. The true focus of the question I’ve posted crosses the spectrum of gun or not gun.  I’m not stating that your points are completely incorrect or inaccurate, I just wonder if there a non-2nd Amendment response along with what you state. Nor am I am advocate of the gun lobby, I’m focusing on the issue of those defenders of murderers who rush practically salivating to find proof of mental deficiencies. 
    ~

      March 30, 2021 6:26 PM MDT
    0

  • 16939
    No, the person is no less dead.  In an ideal world, people who are mentally ill would not be roaming the streets or have the ability to buy guns with which to kill people.  However, we don't live in a perfect world.  Mental illness should not exonerate someone from murder - they should be incarcerated in an area of a prison for mental persons only. 
      March 31, 2021 6:58 AM MDT
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  • 14382
    No one is exonerated for being mentally ill.    The insanity defense simply attempts to prove that the defendant was not sane at the time of the act.  There are many cases where a mentally healthy person commits a crime during a moment of insanity as defined by McNaughton.   Mental illness also factors in when the defendant is not capable of participating in his defense (not fit to stand trial) in which case he/she is placed in an institution.  That is not exoneration.  There may be a trial at a later time. This post was edited by Thriftymaid at April 1, 2021 5:55 PM MDT
      April 1, 2021 12:39 PM MDT
    1

  • 16939
    I stand corrected.  
      April 1, 2021 5:55 PM MDT
    1

  • 6193
    There are lines being crossed with mentally ill/mentally incompetent defenses, in my opinion. It's not doing anything for those who are truly mentally incompetent, I'll say that.  Still, I do think that genuine lack of competency should factor into punishment/consequences. 

    Dead is dead, regardless of the manner of death. Nothing that does or doesn't happen to responsible parties (if applicable) is going to change it. 

    :(
      March 30, 2021 6:51 PM MDT
    2

  • 42221

     

      I think that some apologists for the mentally ill expect survivors to shrug off the death of their loved one based on the idea that responsibility cannot be attached to the criminal act. 

      March 30, 2021 8:13 PM MDT
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  • 14382
    Mental illness is not a defense in and of itself. 
      April 1, 2021 12:42 PM MDT
    1

  • 42221

     

      I don’t know . . . it sure seems that way when some of these defense attorneys and suspects’ family members and advocacy groups get ahold of a microphone. Their first words are mental illness, mental defect, mental disorder, etc. Of course, you are correct in that it may be a factor that is used as a part of an overall defense strategy and/or a way of explaining away murder, but I have to revert to my original intent in stating that a murderer’s mental problems still leave a murder victim, and the premise that uses mental problems as some kind of explanation for murder diminishes the importance of the life that has been taken. 
    ~

      April 1, 2021 1:00 PM MDT
    0

  • 14382
    Don't let all of the minutia cloud the picture.  The judge's jury instructions will include what they may consider as to mental illness.  If they (the instructions) do not, that could be grounds for appeal on a conviction.  That is always considered.

    Victim impact statements and family court addresses often speak about diminished intellect and/or mental illness.  The jury may let some of that, however slightly, have impact on sentencing.  Those statements are heard after the verdict before sentencing phase. 

    People forget that murder trials are a minute percentage of criminal trials.   A very very small percentage of those are, unfortunately,  chosen to exploit in the media but the general population has little perspective as to how small any one trial is in the overall picture of the proceedings that our courts hold. 

    Anyway, having mental illness is not a defense to a crime, nor is ignorance of the law.


    This post was edited by Thriftymaid at April 1, 2021 2:13 PM MDT
      April 1, 2021 1:06 PM MDT
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  • 6193
    It's difficult to turn that all that pain, anger, injustice, desire for retribution, etc.  into something positive. I admire the family members of crime victims who are able to take those horrible feelings and advocate and lobby for legislation and policy change in honor of those who were victimized. 

    In many cases involving perpetrators who are genuinely mentally ill, there is much responsibility to go around. 

      April 2, 2021 7:29 AM MDT
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  • 25726
    Nope. But it does effect the type of punishment that should be given. 

    If a person does not know any better, we cannot treat them as someone who did something out of cruelty. 

    ie. If an infant pulls your hair and laughs at your reaction...we do not punish the infant. If a 5 yr old pulls your hair and laughs...they will be punished in some way. 
      March 30, 2021 7:03 PM MDT
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  • 42221

     

      Hmmmm, variety in consequences as resurrection of the dead. 

    :(

      March 30, 2021 8:14 PM MDT
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  • 25726
    Nope. If the mentally ill person is a danger to others...then there places they go. They are not simply allowed to be free in society.  

    It would be cruel to put a truely mental person in a prison with violent criminals.    But as I said, they should not be allowed free in society either. 

    It is next to impossible to fake insanity for a defense. The therapists know and can spot a fake a mile away. 
      March 31, 2021 5:58 AM MDT
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  • 42221

     

      None of that addresses the magical process by which mental instability brings the victim back to life.

      March 31, 2021 6:18 AM MDT
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  • 25726
    Nothing brings a dead person back to physical life. And no one is claiming that...
      March 31, 2021 6:24 AM MDT
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  • 6908
    One in four Americans suffers from some type of mental disorder. Mental illness does not equate to criminal activity. I feel very strongly about the way mental illness is stigmatized by using it to justify or explain some illegal act. I also feel very strongly about the way we trivialize mental disorders by describing normal but slightly quirky behaviors as OCD, Bi-polar, or schizophrenic, etc. Illness is illness, End of lecture.

    To answer your question. Yes, the victim is still dead. A person with a mental illness can be held accountable. A person who does not understand what they did was wrong is considered legally insane and might be judged not guilty for that reason. However, being locked up in a mental institution for the criminally insane is not exactly getting off scot-free.
      March 31, 2021 5:51 AM MDT
    3

  • 42221

     

      I think that in your first paragraph you have covered the gist of what underlies in my post; the knee-jerk response to label an act as resulting from mental illness. Independently, I go a bit further in a ridiculous causation-result scenario wherein the rubber stamp of mental illness erases the death or diminishes the death. While I do not dismiss the points about which consequences a mentally ill person faces, it’s the designation of mental illness that seemingly puts the brakes on holding accountability to the point that the survivors should just forget that their loved one has been slaughtered.  No amount of consequences to the accused after the murder or lack thereof really play into my point, because once mental illness is assigned, it’s almost as if the murder is ok.

      March 31, 2021 6:26 AM MDT
    0

  • 14382
    Well, no.  The McNaughton Rule is used in the insanity defense.  Being too mental to stand trial is another matter.  In either case our victim is gone.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%27Naghten_rules This post was edited by Thriftymaid at April 1, 2021 12:27 PM MDT
      March 31, 2021 11:01 PM MDT
    1

  • 42221

     

    [The link you posted brings up the Wikipedia article on the letter M.]

      April 1, 2021 5:22 AM MDT
    1

  • 14382
    The strangest thing..........problem caused by space within the address between M and %.  (I am assuming that)    When I go to edit the space is not there.  Anyway, I copy pasted the address (as it is) into the browser and it took me to the correct page. 
      April 1, 2021 12:30 PM MDT
    1