On his way to work one morning, a man stopped his car at a designated street corner where drivers can pick up passengers in order to drive in the highway’s HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes. When the man, who was driving alone, opened his car door and announced his destination, a woman (a stranger) jumped into the front seat.
As soon as the man drove his car onto the busy highway, the woman took a knife from her backpack and held it against the man’s throat. She said to him, “I am being followed by photographers from another planet where I am a celebrity. Pictures of me are worth a fortune, so I never give them away for free. Forget the speed limit and get me out of here fast, or else.”
With the woman holding the knife at his neck, the man sped up to 85 miles per hour (30 mph over the posted speed limit of 55 mph), weaving in and out of traffic to avoid other cars, while the woman urged him to drive faster. While attempting to pass a motorcycle at a curve in the highway, the man lost control of the car, which struck and killed the motorcyclist before crashing into a railing.
A police car arrived at the scene a few minutes later. The man and the woman were treated for minor injuries at the scene and then arrested and taken to the police station.
While in custody, the woman was examined by two psychiatrists. Both psychiatrists submitted written reports stating that the woman suffers from schizophrenia and that, at the time of the accident, her delusions about alien photographers were caused by her schizophrenia.
The State A prosecutor has charged the woman with felony murder for the motorcyclist’s death based on her kidnapping of the man, but is not sure whether to charge the man with any crime.
In State A, the rules governing crimes and affirmative defenses follow common law principles. However, in State A the Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (“NGRI”) defense is defined by statute as follows:
To establish the defense of NGRI, the defendant must show that, at the time of the charged conduct, he or she suffered from a severe mental disease or defect and, as a result of that mental disease or defect, he or she did not know that his or her conduct was wrong. The defendant has the burden to prove all elements of the defense by a preponderance of the evidence.
Assume that the two psychiatric reports will be admitted into evidence.
1. Can the woman establish an NGRI defense? Explain.
2. With what crimes, if any, can the man be charged as a result of the motorcyclist’s death? Explain.
3. What defenses, if any, will be available to the man if he is charged with a crime related to the motorcyclist’s death? Explain.