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State v. Brom

Supreme Court of Minnesota
463 N.W.2d 758 (1990)


Facts

The parents and siblings of David Brom (defendant) were found dead in their home with numerous gash wounds. The ax used in the slayings was found in the basement of the house with Brom’s fingerprints on the handle. Brom was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of his parents and siblings. Brom pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity, and Brom’s trial was bifurcated pursuant to Minnesota law. The first phase of the trial was the guilt phase. During this phase, Brom wished to introduce expert psychiatric testimony to prove that he was incapable of premeditation. The trial court ruled the testimony inadmissible and instructed the jury not to consider evidence of Brom’s mental illness during the guilt phase. The jury found Brom guilty of four counts of first-degree murder. During the second phase of the trial, or the insanity phase, the burden was on Brom to prove his mental illness by a preponderance of the evidence. Brom presented expert testimony from four psychiatrists, two of whom concluded that Brom was not legally insane at the time of the murders. All of the experts, however, agreed that Brom suffered from some form of mental impairment. The jury found Brom guilty of all four counts of first-degree murder, and the court imposed four life sentences. Brom appealed, arguing that the court had violated his due process rights in refusing to admit expert psychiatric testimony on the issue of premeditation in the guilt phase of the trial.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Tomljanovich, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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Dissent (Wahl, J.)

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