On Tuesday, the Senate gave unanimous final approval to legislation that will create a new defense for those who suffer from mental illness. Senate Bill 1214, by Sen. Ron Sharp and Justin Wood, will modify the “not guilty by reason of insanity” (NGRI) defense in Oklahoma by adding a “guilty but with mental defect” and “not guilty by reason of mental illness” defense.
“We’re seeing more and more people using the not guilty by reason of insanity defense even though their crimes are premeditated,” said Sharp, R-Shawnee. “These new defenses will ensure they get the treatment they need for their mental illness but still go to prison so they can be held accountable for their crimes.”
SB 1214 provides that anyone who has an antisocial personality disorder and is found guilty with a mental illness cannot use the NGRI plea and must complete the sentence for the crime.
A plea of guilty with mental defect will result in the same sentence imposed on someone else convicted of the same crime. Anyone found guilty with mental defect will be required to be examined by the state Department of Mental Health prior to release on probation. Within 45 days of the examination, the department must make recommendations for treatment, which will serve as a condition for probation. The recommended treatment will be paid for by the probationer and failure to continue the treatment will be grounds for revocation of probation. The probationer will also be required to file a psychiatric report with the probation offers and the sentencing court every 6 months during the probation period.
The legislation was requested by Pottawatomie County District Attorney, Richard Smothermon, following the 2012 high profile murder case involving Jerrod Murray. The East Central University student planned and kidnapped fellow classmate, Generro Sanchez, and shot him multiple times. He later confessed that he wanted to see what it felt like to kill someone. Under Oklahoma law, Murray was charged with murder but found not guilty by reason of insanity. He is serving his sentence at the Oklahoma Forensic Center (OFC), the largest inpatient behavioral health facility in the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services system, until such time that he is found to not be a danger to himself or others.
The bill will next be considered by Gov. Fallin. If signed, the new law will go into effect Nov. 1, 2016.