Insanity plea in Ohio school shooting

Oct. 2, 2012 at 3:05 PM
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CHARDON, Ohio, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Attorneys for a teen accused of killing three classmates in an Ohio school shooting are planning to mount an insanity defense.

T.J. Lane admitted killing three schoolmates and injuring three others Feb. 27 when he opened fire on the teens with a handgun and a rifle stolen from an uncle as they waited for a bus to take them to an alternative school, Lake Academy in Willoughby, Ohio, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported Tuesday.

Insanity pleas are extremely rare in Ohio -- and even rarer is a successful one, the newspaper noted. Only 1 percent of the state's homicide trials have seen a not guilty by reason of insanity plea entered. Of those cases, just 15 percent are successfully argued.

Lane lawyers Ian Friedman and Mark DeVan will have to prove their client did not know his actions at the time of the shooting were wrong because of a mental defect or disease -- and that the defect caused the action. Typically, that requires demonstrating a long history of hospitalization and treatment for a disease, a challenge given Lane is just 18.

Geauga County Common Pleas Judge David Fuhry had wanted to get the trial completed before the holidays, but given Monday's insanity plea, told lawyers he may move back the scheduled Nov. 12 trial date to give mental health experts from both sides time to examine Lane.

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