Insanity claim could elicit need for council
Published: Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 21:01
It will be very hard to forget the "mug shot" of accused Arizona killer Jared Loughner — the deadened eyes, but smug smirk of a lunatic.
It isn't hard to want to deny this man the rights afforded to him by the United States Constitution. In fact, as far as my humanity is concerned, Loughner doesn't deserve to be breathing right now — let alone have a right to a trial.
However, the rule of law is what makes this country the strong and just nation that it is. In fact, there are some pivotal reasons why Loughner deserves a trial. It is possible that Loughner is a schizophrenic.
Weeks before the shooting, Loughner was allegedly found at his college yelling at a garbage can. In addition, it has been learned that security guards were posted in Loughner's classes due to his outburst tendencies. He was known to make outrageous statements in class and in essays submitted to his professors.
Despite the fact that these events make it easier to believe Loughner was not right in the head, there are numerous pieces of evidence to show that Loughner may be culpable.
Copious amounts of letters and notes which read, "Die, bitch" and referenced "My assassination" were found in a safe belonging to Loughner.
There is not much doubt that Loughner was the man who pulled the trigger and ended the lives of six people.
However, our legal system must presume that Loughner is innocent. Why? Not because Loughner did not commit the crime, but because if he is schizophrenic, he is not at fault legally.
Or perhaps, his outbursts may have just been a clever ruse to divert the blame that he would receive after the shooting.
The reason why we have clearly established guidelines in our legal system is so we have the ability to fairly sort through the circumstances of a crime to find the true motive behind the action. In the United States of America, a person's guilt is decided at trial — cno matter what evidence may exist beforehand.
The understood fact that Loughner perpetrated this horrific deed in front of numerous witnesses is just one more piece of evidence to be admitted at trial—it is not the instance of guilt itself.
After John Hinckley shot President Ronald Reagan in front of a crowd of bystanders, this same argument came up.
Hinckley was determined to be not of sound mind. Thus, he was not guilty, "by reason of mental disease or defect." A person who is mentally incompetent does not belong in jail.
Would we be having the same argument if Loughner was a man who had Down syndrome and was accused of perpetrating the same act? Of course not, because it is understood that somebody who has Down syndrome has a limited understanding of right and wrong.