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A Case for Legal Insanity

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Delay sought in Pa. trial for insanity defense

PA State Wire
Published: Feb 26, 2011

WAYNESBURG, Pa. (AP) - Attorneys for a western Pennsylvania man accused of killing his ex-wife last year are seeking a delay in his trial so that they can prepare an insanity defense.

Thirty-eight-year-old Scott Joseph Baker of Nemacolin is accused of strangling 30-year-old Melissa Baker and cutting her throat at her mobile home in Crucible in November 2009 while two children were there. The victim worked as a Greene County Jail guard.

Public defenders filed notice with the court Thursday indicating that they plan to argue that Baker was mentally ill at the time. The (Washington) Observer-Reporter says a ruling on the motions might not come until Monday, a day before jury selection is to begin.

Prosecutors are objecting to an insanity defense, saying notice was not filed on time and contained insufficient information

Legal insanity is grounds for complete acquittal in Pennsylvania. The verdict of "not guilty by reason of insanity" means that the defendant did commit the act, but because of his mental illness he cannot be legally responsible. In other words, a defense of insanity acknowledges commission of the act by the defendant, while maintaining the absence of legal culpability.

The test of legal insanity is not whether the defendant was mentally ill from a medical viewpoint, but whether the defendant knew what he was doing and knew that it was wrong.

Contact legal counsel immediately if you believe you are the subject of an investigation or if you've been charged with a crime. Get experienced legal assistance by contacting Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at or toll free at 1-866-765-0706.

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