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Sanders v. State

Supreme Court of Mississippi
63 So. 3d 497 (2011)


Facts

On December 29, 1985, Keir Sanders (defendant) shot and killed his grandfather, W.D. Crawford, and then shot his grandmother, Elma. Officers arrived to discover Elma wounded but still alive. Elma told officers that Sanders had shot her and W.D. and pulled the phone from the wall before escaping in W.D.’s car. Elma died several months later. Officers located W.D.’s car, but Sanders evaded capture until 2005, using at least six different aliases. The State of Mississippi (plaintiff) charged Sanders with the murders. At trial, Dr. John McCoy testified that Sanders had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder years before the incident. Dr. McCoy further testified that at the time of the killings, Sanders was laboring under a defect of reason caused by a disease of the mind that prevented him from understanding that his conduct was wrong. Dr. Mark Webb agreed with Dr. McCoy that while Sanders understood the nature and quality of his actions, he did not know that what he did was wrong. Dr. William Lott, however, disagreed, concluding that Sanders did know that his conduct was wrong. Dr. Lott based his opinion on Sanders’s seemingly well-reasoned and -planned conduct on the day of the killings and in the following years. Specifically, Dr. Lott highlighted that Sanders purposely unplugged the phone and fled the scene, evading capture for many years. The jury found Sanders not guilty by reason of insanity for W.D.’s murder but concluded that Sanders was guilty of Elma’s murder. Sanders appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pierce, J.)

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