Man Facing Charges In Bookstore Stabbing Has History Of Mental Illness
A Tallahassee man who was adjudicated as mentally insane in four of the five criminal cases he was involved with was involved in another incident in which he allegedly stabbed a 71-year-old man who was drinking coffee at a bookstore. The 71-year-old is expected to survive the incident and is reportedly recovering, according to a victim advocate.
An attorney for the defendant is asking a judge to perform a psychological evaluation of the man to determine if he was “insane” at the time of the stabbing. The defendant had been reported missing from a mental health care center that provides both inpatient and outpatient services. It is unclear if the defendant was receiving inpatient services and escaped or was allowed off the grounds as part of his treatment. The man had been with the mental health clinic for nearly four years without incident prior to the stabbing.
Florida rules require that the law seek the least restrictive form of care when adjudicating an individual as insane. In this case, the defendant had a history with knives having been implicated in stabbing incidents before and another incident in which he pulled a 9-inch knife on a public bus. He served jail time in connection with one of those charges and was placed in the care of a residential mental health services provider in Tallahassee. He remained there, apparently stable, for four years until the latest incident.
Even if the defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, the state is unlikely to allow him to return to the less-restrictive environment. Instead, he will not be allowed to wander off the grounds and he will be placed into a locked forensic ward where his activities will be monitored. So, even though he may not face prison time for attempted murder, his life will become less free and he will be given less leeway to interact with the public.
This is not seen as a punishment, but rather a way to prevent the man from injuring himself or members of the public. If doctors can stabilize the defendant, he may be released to a less-restrictive care management facility in the future.
It’s important to understand that legal insanity is not a question of whether or not you have a mental health diagnosis, but rather, a moral question of whether or not you had evil intent. For example, if I were to stab a man in a coffee shop because I believe he is the antichrist, I am—in my own mind—doing something good. However, if I stab a man in a coffee shop because I believe he is Kevin Bacon who wants to steal my date, then I’m still committing the crime for personal gain. It would be unlawful to kill someone who wanted to steal your date, so the fact that a defendant believed the victim was Kevin Bacon (when it was not) wouldn’t matter. The morality of his actions was personal. Hence, illegal.
In other words, the case may hinge on his delusions.
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