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State v. Wilson

Supreme Court of Connecticut
700 A.2d 633 (1997)


Facts

Wilson (defendant) was charged with the murder of Jack Peters. Wilson had attended high school with Jack Peters’ son, Dirk, and harbored a belief that Jack and Dirk were determined to destroy Wilson’s life. Wilson believed Dirk was the head of an organization that was determined to control the minds of others. Wilson believed that Dirk poisoned him, hypnotized him, and was responsible for a series of bad events in Wilson’s life, including the loss of his job, sexual incapacity, lack of strength, the deaths of his mother and family dogs, and his breakup with his girlfriend. For a period of several months in 1993, Wilson began warning the police that Jack and Dirk were conspiring to destroy peoples’ lives, including his own. He repeatedly asked the police to take action, but the police informed him there was no way to investigate such claims. In August 1993, Wilson went to Jack’s home and shot him to death. He then turned himself into the police, stating that he had no choice but to shoot him. At the murder trial, Wilson pleaded insanity. Several expert witnesses testified on Wilson’s behalf. One expert said that Wilson expressed remorse after the shooting but that he felt that the shooting was necessary to save others. Another expert testified that Wilson believed he had saved the world. A third expert said that Wilson felt he had a higher moral duty to kill Peters. Wilson requested jury instructions that defined the “wrongfulness” prong of the insanity test as a moral consideration. Under Wilson’s proposed test, a defendant could not be held criminally responsible if, by mental disease or defect, he believes his conduct is morally justifiable, even if he knows his conduct is against the law. The trial court rejected this definition.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Palmer, J.)

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  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
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  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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Concurrence (Katz, J.)

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Dissent (McDonald, J.)

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