August 7, 2008

Bizarre verdict: Both sane and insane

Kier Sanders was a severely psychotic and delusional 21-year-old when he shotgunned his grandparents to death in Tupelo, Mississippi back in 1985. Amazingly, he wandered the streets of America for two decades before finally being apprehended in 2005 and put on trial for double murder.

The defense, insanity, was no surprise.

The verdict, both guilty and not guilty, was.

Apparently worried that the 43-year-old Sanders might be released if they found him not guilty by reason of insanity, jurors acquitted him in the death of one grandparent, but found him guilty of murder in the other.

After deliberating for 45 minutes, the jury sent a note to the judge asking when Sanders might be released if they found him NGI. The judge, following the law, ordered them not to consider that issue. The strange verdict came four hours later.

The judge sentenced Sanders to life in prison, noting that if he was ever paroled he would then be committed to the state hospital as NGI. The verdict and sentence will be appealed, Sanders' attorney said.

Psychologist John McCoy of Memphis, who treated Sanders in 1983 and who testified for the defense that Sanders was not malingering, reported on the case for the National Psychologist. His article, along with contact information for him, is here.

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