Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies arrested a 40-year-old man who attacked his roommate with a metal rod because he feared the man was undead.

According to the alleged victim, the defendant has a history of severe mental problems. The alleged victim said the defendant accused him of being a vampire, to which the roommate responded “Is that what the kids are calling me these days?” The defendant apparently interpreted that remark as a confession. The man now faces aggravated assault charges in Kitsap County court.

None of the names were released.

“The insanity defense does not come up very often, but in some cases, it is a valuable tool,” remarked Seattle criminal defense attorney Lennard A. Nahajski. “This defense is not used very much largely because, in many instances, it does not affect the outcome and may have some steep collateral consequences.”

Would-pre Presidential assassin John Hinkley is a good example, Nahajski added. In 1981, the deranged Hinkley shot and wounded President Ronald Reagan along with two other people. At a later trial, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity. He then spent the next twenty-five years in a secure mental facility.

Additionally, a legal declaration of insanity is not an easy thing to live with.

A doctor could reverse this diagnosis later. But that outcome is not guaranteed, and even then, the stigma usually remains. The insanity defense works a bit differently in Washington State than in some other jurisdictions. The defendant must establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, that s/he had a mental disease or defect which prevented him/her from understanding the nature of right and wrong at the time of the offense. Most state laws are similar in this regard. 

But in Washington, the judge has the option of releasing the defendant, if the defendant “is not a substantial danger to other persons, and does not present a substantial likelihood of committing criminal acts jeopardizing public safety or security.” That’s a rather high standard, which means the potential for release is a legitimate possibility.

Brain development is a related issue.

Most scientists believe the brain does not fully develop until age 25. And, risk-reward analysis is one of the last areas to mature. That’s why children chase balls into busy streets, and that’s also why young adults do not fully understand the consequences of criminal actions. However, age is not a mental disease or defect. So, lack of brain development is not relevant during the guilt/innocence phase. But it is a strong mitigating factor in punishment.

Contact The Nahajski Firm today to discuss your case.