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Criminal Law Keyed to Gershowitz
Fulcher v. State
Citation:633 P.2d 142.
On November 17, 1979, the defendant drank seven or eight shots of whiskey over a period of four hours. The defendant claims he got in a fight in the bar restroom, then left the bar to find a friend. According to his testimony, the last thing he remembers until awakening in jail, is going out of the door at the bar.
The defendant and his friend were found lying in the alley behind the bar by a police officer who noted abrasions on their fists and faces. The defendant and his friend swore, were uncooperative, and combative. They were taken to jail and the defendant was placed in a cell with Martin Hernandez, who was lying unconscious on the floor of the cell. The defendant kicked and stomped on Hernandez’s head. Hernandez was bleeding profusely and was taken to the hospital for 52 stitches in his head and mouth. He had lost two or three teeth as a result of the kicking.
The defendant was charged with aggravated assault. He originally pled not guilty by reason of mental illness or deficiency, however, upon finding out that he would have to be committed to a mental institute, he withdrew the plea.
At the trial, Dr. LeBegue testified that in his expert medical opinion the defendant suffered brain injury and was in a state of traumatic automatism at the time of his attack on Hernandez. Dr. LeBegue defined traumatic automatism as the state of mind in which a person does not have conscious and willful control over his actions, and lacks the ability to be aware of and to perceive his external environment. Dr. LeBegue further testified that another possible symptom is an inability to remember what occurred while in a state of traumatic automatism. Dr. LeBegue was unable to state positively whether or not the defendant had the requisite mental state for aggravated assault, but thought that he did not because of his altered state of mind. He could not state, however, that the character of an act is devoid of criminal intent because of mind alteration.
The defendant was found guilty.
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