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A defendant deemed competent to stand trial has the right to say he's not insane

May 03, 2019 - 4:00 am

By Amy E. Feldman, Judge Technology Solutions

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Wait, you don't want to present an insanity defense? That's crazy!  

While in jail for robbery, an inmate in a Phoenix prison stabbed his cellmate 13 times, possibly because he believed that his stomach ache was caused by the cellmate's use of a voodoo doll against him. 

While he was deemed competent to stand trial, a lawyer was appointed by the court who felt he should enter the defense of insanity. The inmate told the court he preferred to use the defense that he had been possessed by the devil, but when the court said there is no such defense, the appointed counsel entered an insanity defense on his behalf against his wishes.  

He was convicted, but claims his rights were violated by being forced to use the insanity defense. 

But if a person is too mentally ill to make a good decision to use a defense of mental illness, then what happens next?

According to the court, if he's been deemed competent to stand trial, which he was, he has the right not to say he's insane even if that decision is, in colloquial terms, crazy.  

The court said his rights were in fact violated when it was entered against his wishes.