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Man kills old woman, may have compromised mental health

Is it fair to penalize someone who is not mentally sound for a crime, no matter how heinous? If you're not aware of what you're doing or that it's wrong, how can you be charged for that act? This can be a solid defense, particularly if you struggle with mental health concerns.

In this case out of Colorado, the man accused of murdering an 87-year-old woman has confessed to murdering her, but there are some concerns about his mental health at the time of the confession. He won't allow his attorneys to use an insanity defense, but he may still show enough signs of mental illness to have it work in his defense.

According to prosecutors, there was evidence, like blood on the man's shoes and fingerprints on the woman's windows, that indicates that this man was responsible for the woman's murder. Evidence shows that she was strangled in her home as her home was burgled.

Despite the confession and evidence, there are real concerns about the man's mental health. The 25-year-old man faces a first-degree murder conviction, but it's been claimed that he was too disturbed to form criminal intent. When a person struggles with mental health disorders, he or she may not be aware of what he or she is doing or that it was wrong.

In this situation, the defense attorney pointed out that the man had been spreading feces in his hair and eating it. He often threatened individuals related to the case, stating that he would kill them, and his outbursts have been a point of contention. A mental health evaluation was ordered, but the man wouldn't answer any questions asked. In the past, he did improve when he was forced to take medication for schizophrenia; he was discharged from the Colorado Mental Health Institute just two months before the woman's murder. He was not given a treatment plan on his release to the county jail, which could account for his strange behavior.

Situations like this are unusual, and for someone who struggles with a mental health disorder that may not be diagnosed, jail or prison isn't necessarily the best option. That's why a solid defense is key to protecting their rights.

Source: The Gazette, "Jailhouse confession adds to evidence in Colorado Springs man's murder trial," Lance Benzel, June 21, 2016

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