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United States v. Bridget M. Denny-Shaffer
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
2 F.3d 999 (1993)
Bridget Denny-Shaffer (defendant) suffered from multiple personality disorder (MPD)—having two or more personalities in one individual—stemming from extensive childhood physical and sexual abuse. Bridget met Jesse Palomares and became pregnant with his child but suffered a miscarriage. After Jesse ended the relationship, Bridget was hospitalized and diagnosed with borderline personality and eating disorders. After discharge from the hospital, Bridget got a nursing job in New Mexico. Bridget informed Jesse and her family members that she was pregnant. Bridget went to a different hospital in New Mexico claiming to be a medical student and took a baby from the hospital and drove to Jesse’s house in Texas and pretended she had given birth to Jesse’s child. Bridget spoke with her supervisor at work in New Mexico and told the supervisor that she had a baby. The supervisor knew about the kidnapping and called the police, resulting in Bridget’s arrest. Bridget was charged with kidnapping and presented an insanity defense. The government and defense experts diagnosed Bridget with MPD. Both experts agreed that an alter personality, not the dominant host personality, was in charge during the kidnapping. The government expert stated that if the host and all alters were required to be aware of the wrongfulness of the crime, then Bridget could be found insane. If, however, the burden required only proof that the alter in control was aware of the wrongfulness of her actions, then Bridget was not insane, because the alter could tell right from wrong. The judge determined that for the insanity defense to apply, only consideration of the perspective of the alter in charge applied. The judge ruled that the record contained no evidence about the alter’s understanding of the crime and, thus, found that Bridget could not establish insanity by clear and convincing evidence. The judge refused to submit instructions on the defense to the jury. The jury trial was waived, and the judge found Bridget guilty of kidnapping. Bridget timely appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Holloway, J.)
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