It seems that some people have their panties in a wad over Minnesota’s insanity defense law known as the M’Naghten Rule. Especially after John Jason McLaughlin was ruled sane after being found guilty of shooting and killing two of his classmates. Which is all well and good except for one thing. McLaughlin was more than likely faking it. The similarities between his “symptoms” and movies and TV shows that are documented that he saw are too strong to ignore. Yet the article declares that he had multiple diagnoses of schizophrenia. What they forget to mention is that he wasn’t diagnosed until after the killings. How convenient. But I’ve been over this before. The bottom line is if you relax the M’Naghten Rule you’re just giving cold-blooded killers one more chance to walk.
It seems that John Jason McLaughlin was offered a plea that would have kept him out of jail…
Tom Rollins, the father of 17-year-old victim Aaron Rollins, first told KNSI-FM in St. Cloud on Friday that some six months ago, prosecutors offered the deal to McLaughlin’s attorney, Dan Eller.
Rollins said both his family and the family of the other victim, Seth Bartell, 14, didn’t oppose the prosecution’s offer.
Under the plea deal, Rollins said, McLaughlin would have plead guilty to all six charges against him, including first-degree murder for shooting Bartell.
In exchange, he would have been sentenced to 30 years, but could have served it at a mental institution until such time that he was declared mentally healthy – after which he would have served out the balance in prison, Rollins said.
I wonder why it was rejected. It seems that McLaughlin or his lawyer took a gamble that didn’t pay off. I have a feeling though that this will be used in an appeal argument.
2. On or prior to September 24, 2003 John Jason McLaughlin (“Defendant”) knowingly took the following actions:
a. The Defendant took his father’s 22-Caliber Colt semi-automatic pistol from a dresser in a spare be3droom in his home without permission. He took the gun while his father was in the shower, indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take his father’s gun. The Defendant also took 10 federal long rifle (hollow point) cartridges from a closet in the bedroom and loaded those cartridges into the magazine of the pistol.
b. The Defendant had performed surveillance of the school prior to the shooting to detect security cameras and other security devices that would prevent him from carrying out his plan, indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take a gun to school.
c. The Defendant hid the pistol in his gym bag and entered Rocori High School before 7:30 a.m., again indicating his awareness that it was “wrong” to take a gun to school. The Defendant initially put the gym bag containing his pistol in his locker. At 7:40 a.m. he sent an e-mail from his keyboarding classroom to at the school Brittany Kelly. The unedited-mail read:
“Befor I go to far I have to ask you not to tell any one about this not the news cops or parents ok lets start at the top I like you I have always like you fome the first time I saw you until this varry day. I would have said some ting but I was too shy. But you were the nicest person I ever met and I thank you for that. So I guess this is goodbye my love.”
This e-mail suggest the Defendant knew of the wrongfulness of his plan because of his request for Brittany to conceal his plan from others, his awareness that the police would be involved and his statement “befor [he goes] to far”. Through his “goodbye”, he also intimates that he was aware that his actions would prevent him from future communications with Brittany.
d. During the third period of the school day, the Defendant removed the gun from his locker and brought it with him to his Driver’s education class. He asked other students if they had seen Cody Enstad “Cody” or Seth Bartell “Seth” at school that day.
e. The Defendant loaded his weapon in the bathroom in the swimming locker room so he would not be discovered and prevented from carrying out his plan.
f. Shortly thereafter, he followed Seth from the locker room to the hallway, where he aimed and fired the weapon at Seth, hitting him in the lower back on the left side. The gun jammed, and the Defendant un-jammed it to proceed with his plan
g. Because the first shot did not stop Seth, the Defendant pursued him down the hallway, shooting the second bullet wildly and without regard to whether he wounded or killed with his shot, contradicting his assertion that he intended only to hurt, and not kill Seth. The second bullet hit and killed Aaron Rollins. The Defendant followed his target, Seth, up the stairs, having paused briefly and losing sight of him in the stairwell. The Defendant arrived in the gymnasium after Seth. When Seth turned to face him, the Defendant shot Seth in the forehead, from a distance of two feet or less.
h. As the Defendant’s story evolved in later interviews with mental health experts, he claims he only intended to shoot Seth in the shoulder in a manner that would only hurt and not kill.
i. However, the Defendant admitted to Agent McDonald on the date of the shootings that he planned to bring a gun to school to “shoot some people”. The Defendant admitted that he followed Seth up the stairs to “shoot him again”, indicating that he was aware that he had already hit and wounded his target.
j. The defendant completed a gun safety course in the Spring of 2003. In that course he learned, among other things, not to point a firearm at a living creature unless you intend to kill it, and the violent impact of firearms. The test he completed at the end of the course demonstrates that he took the course seriously and was proficient in the areas covered during the course. His ability to learn and test well during his Gun Safety course is in stark contrast to his school performance during that period and indicates his academic ability when motivated.
k. The defendant, prior to September 24, 2003 had frequently fired pistols at ranges with his father. Of the firearms he had fired, he was most familiar and proficient with the pistol involved in these shootings.
It’s good to see the justice system working for once.
Sentencing is set for August 30th.
My own commenters scooped me on this one. You guys rock.
A district court judge has ruled John Jason McLaughlin was not insane when he shot and killed two classmates at Rocori High School in September 2003.
Judge Michael Kirk delivered his verdict Tuesday. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 30.
Kirk said it was clear McLaughlin suffered “some sort of mental impairment,” according to The Associated Press. He added, “Numerous facts laid out in this case point to the defendant knowing his actions were morally wrong.”
McLaughlin, who was charged as an adult, could face life in prison without possibility of parole.
Psychiatrist in McLaughlin trial says movie claims exaggerated:
The expert witness for the defense in the John Jason McLaughlin insanity trial rebukes claims by the prosecution that McLaughlin is using movies to fake his mental illness…
Psychiatrist Maureen Hackett, who evaluated McLaughlin several times, said some of the allegations expert witness made last week – such as that McLaughlin took his cues from horror movies – were played up.
“His description of his experiences have been detailed enough to understand it was real to him. When he reported seeing these dead bodies, he didn’t say, `I see dead people,'” Hackett said, in reference to a well-known line from the movie “The Sixth Sense.”
That’s all well and good but how about the correlations to “A Dangerous Mind” and “The Simpsons”? And if I remember correctly no one claimed that he said, “I see dead people”.
This is my favorite part. Dr. Hackett claims that McLaughlin isn’t faking mental illness but mental wellness.
“He does not want people to think he is mentally ill,” she said. “I have seen him downplay his symptoms. As with other aspects of his life, he was afraid of being teased about it.”
Faking sanity. That’s a new one on me but I’m not buying it. Especially when another doctor has said that his “illness” has gotten better while being off meds.
Dr. Hackett also patted herself on the back by saying this…
Hackett said she has evaluated about 300 defendants in criminal cases.
I wonder how many of those were for the defense?
The best way this whole insanity phase of the trial can be summed up is by a comment I received earlier today…
“If McLaughlin is found to have been insane at the time of the shootings, he would be committed to a secure mental facility. If he is found not to have been insane, he will be sent to prison after sentencing. Klumpp (the prosecutor) has argued that McLaughlin is feigning mental illness to enable him to say at a security hospital, where he is able to play video games and order pizza.”
Who’d have figured? 🙄
Some interesting testimony out of John Jason McLaughlin’s insanity trial…
A psychologist testified Friday that high school shooter John Jason McLaughlin faked his schizophrenic symptoms months before his murder trial and took his cues from movies and television.
Haven’t I heard that somewhere before?
Prosecutors played a clip from the movie “The Sixth Sense,” in which the young lead character says, “I see dead people,” in claiming that McLaughlin is faking mental illness and that popular culture, movies and TV, have inspired the symptoms he’s reported.
McLaughlin has reported similar hallucinations, according to court documents. He has described dead people dressed like Pilgrims hanging in the detention center where he has been held.
The movie clip showed three dead people hanging in a stairwell at a school attended by the character. The bodies are dressed in old-fashioned clothing. Psychologist Kelly Wilson, a prosecution witness, said she believed McLaughlin got the idea from the movie.
I swear I’ve heard that somewhere before.
Wilson testified that the movie “A Beautiful Mind” may have been where McLaughlin got the idea to say he has seen drug enforcement-type people living in the woods near his Cold Spring home.
“A Beautiful Mind” is about a mathematician with a mental illness who thought he met government agents in remote settings.
Ok, now that sounds really familiar.
Oh yeah, I remember where I’ve heard that before. This very website.
A mother of a student who was at Rocori at the time of the shooting made the Sixth Sense correlation here.
And I had a commenter claiming to be a family member of McLaughlin’s that prattled on about “A Beautiful Mind” here and here. I wondered why. Now I know.
Wilson, with the Minnesota State Security Hospital in St. Peter, also noted that McLaughlin has said his hands turn tie-dye colors underwater. She said this idea has been featured on the long-running TV cartoon “The Simpsons.”
I don’t remember that episode. Anyone care to enlighten me?
Asked if there’s evidence McLaughlin has seen the movies and the TV show, prosecutor David Voigt said, “stay tuned.”
The prosecution plans to call witnesses that will say that the teen has seen the movies and TV show. On Friday, Wilson testified that McLaughlin’s family owns the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” It also appears as though McLaughlin has seen both movies at the detention center.
Well, well, well.
As Mr. Voigt said…”Stay tuned”.
Dr. Katheryn Cranbrook testified today for the prosecution in the insanity trial of John Jason McLaughlin and guess what she thinks. She thinks that McLaughlin is faking it. Who would have thought…
Katheryn Cranbrook said she originally diagnosed McLaughlin with an emerging psychotic disorder in 2003, but now believes he was faking his symptoms.
Cranbrook interviewed McLaughlin in November 2003, two months after the teenager took a gun to Rocori High School in Cold Spring and killed two students. She interviewed him again last month in anticipation of his murder trial.
Observations of McLaughlin in a juvenile detention facility, security hospital and later jail after his Sept. 24, 2003, arrest did not support his reports of hallucinations, Cranbrook testified.
“No one had noticed prior to that day any significant impairment in functioning,” she said in Stearns County District Court.
Cranbook said it was suspicious that McLaughlin’s reports of vision changed over time and between doctors. She said his reports of hearing voices in fifth and then sixth grade was also rare.
Schizophrenia is generally diagnosed in early adulthood and rarely before adolescence. McLaughlin also did not exhibit the lack of hygiene and disorganized speech that are common symptoms of schizophrenia, she said.
“He was organized. He was rational. He was very reality-based,” Cranbrook said.
You don’t say.
I received an e-mail today from someone who says they were at John Jason McLaughlin’s trial yesterday…
Dr. Hackett taped her sessions with Jason and they were introduced as evidence yesterday and she didn’t want that to happen, she was visibly upset and said “NO”. It wasn’t a matter of confidentiality because that was already waived. We think there was something on those tapes she didn’t want heard. We know she suggested a lot of stuff to Jason and he just answered her questions yes or no. She didn’t ask open-ended questions.
For more on Dr. Hackett you can go here.
The first article is about the testimony heard in John Jason McLaughlin’s insanity trial. The second is the psychological evaluation of McLaughlin by Dr. Maureen Hackett. Read them both at your leisure. I’ll even have the evaluation posted on the second page of this entry because it’s worth saving.
A doctor for the prosecution had this to say…
But on Wednesday, Dr. Katheryn Cranbrook, a state psychologist called by prosecutors, said McLaughlin is faking his illness in part because of the teen’s “fantastical” symptoms and because his illness has gotten better even though he has been off medication for a time this summer.
I have to agree based on what I’ve read. According to Dr. Hackett’s evaluation McLaughlin started having hallucinations while in the sixth grade. He shot Seth Bartell when he was a freshman in high school. So you’re going to tell me that for 3 years no one noticed anything was wrong with him. I find that very hard to believe.
The insanity phase of John Jason McLaughlin’s trial continues.
Dr. Maureen Hackett, a Twin Cities psychiatrist, was on the stand again this morning after testifying all day Monday. She said McLaughlin has schizophrenia. His mental illness was so severe at the time of the shooting that it meets Minnesota’s tough standards for finding that someone is not responsible for his or her criminal actions, she said.
Hackett’s testimony on Monday revealed that McLaughlin has an imaginary companion named Jake who talks to Jason and sometimes appears to him during court proceedings. Hackett also said McLaughlin believes he has interacted with drug enforcement agent types who live in the woods near his Cold Spring home.
The defense also called Dr. Richard Lentz, a Park-Nicollet Clinic psychiatrist, who testified that he believes McLaughlin has schizophrenia. McLaughlin asked for more medication after reportedly seeing dead people in his cell at a detention facility, Lentz said.
Prosecutor Bill Klumpp has argued that McLaughlin is faking mental illness and that his hatred and jealously of more popular students drove him to kill.
This morning, Klumpp said that McLaughlin’s description of his mental illness has been inconsistent and that the teen has given three different versions of when he first began to hear voices.
Klumpp repeatedly pointed out that no one had suspected that McLaughlin was mentally ill before the shootings. He said there are other explanations for symptoms Hackett had described.
And what I think is the most damning argument from the prosecution…
Klumpp also noted that Hackett said schizophrenics have problems thinking clearly: McLaughlin was capable of high-level thinking and decided that a stint in prison was worthwhile if he could hurt Seth Bartell,14.
“He did a cost-benefit analysis,” Klumpp said.
I wonder what he thinks of the cost now.