OKLAHOMA CITY – On Tuesday, the Senate gave unanimous approval to a measure to modify the “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) defense in Oklahoma. Sen. Ron Sharp said Senate Bill 1214 would add a “guilty but with mental defect” defense for those individuals who are found guilty with a mental illness but who also have an antisocial personality disorder.
“The not guilty by reason of insanity defense was created for those who are not mentally capable of understanding their actions but now we have people who commit violent crimes trying to use this defense even when the crime was premeditated,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “The law needs to be modified to take into account those who suffer from a mental illness but are still mentally capable of understanding their actions. They need to be held accountable.”
SB 1214 would provide that anyone who has an antisocial personality disorder and is found guilty with a mental illness cannot use the NGRI plea and must complete the sentence for the crime. The bill creates the guilty with mental defect and not guilty by reason of mental illness pleas.
Under the legislation, a plea of guilty with mental defect would result in the same sentence that could be imposed on another person convicted of the same crime. Those found guilty with mental defect would be required to be examined by the state Department of Mental Health with a recommendation to be made within 45 days.
The bill was requested by Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smothermon in response to the 2012 murder case involving Jerrod Murray. Murray kidnapped fellow East Central University student, Generro Sanchez, and shot him multiple times. Murray confessed, with no emotion or remorse, to the murder saying he just wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone. He was charged with murder but, under Oklahoma law, found not guilty by reason of insanity. He was then sentenced to imprisonment in the Oklahoma Forensic Center until such time that he is found to not be a danger to himself or others.
“This bill targets the most dangerous criminals who have mental illnesses but will never be cured by treatment; the ones that kill just to kill or hurt others because they get pleasure from it,” said Smothermon. “This bill would allow a jury to send these criminals to prison rather than a mental hospital, which is where they deserve to be.”
Smothermon and Sanchez’ mother, Jeana West, were in the Senate gallery to listen to the debate on SB 1214.
The bill will now go to the House for further consideration.