Thursday, May 31, 2007

Florida Supreme Court Reduces Death Sentence Because of Mental Illness

The Florida Supreme Court reduced a death sentence to life without parole because of the defendant's serious mental illness. The court noted that this was "one of the most documented cases of serious mental illnesses this court has reviewed." In its decision rejecting the trial judge's death sentence for Christopher Offord (pictured), the justices unanimously held that the death penalty was a disproportionate punishment due to Offord's long-standing mental problems. Medical records show that Offord, who was convicted of killing his wife in 2004, suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and has been in and out of institutions since he was a young boy. The trial judge had imposed a death sentence despite the fact that she found Offord had committed the murder under the influence of extreme mental or emotional disturbance and lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct. The jury had unanimously recommended a death sentence.
(Associated Press, May 24, 2007). See Mental Illness.

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