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Criminal Law Keyed to Ohlin
Sanders v. State
Citation:63 So. 3d 497 (2011)
On the morning of December 29, 1985, W.D. and Elma Crawford were attacked in their home by the defendant, their grandson. While W.D. was cooking breakfast, the defendant shot him in the back with a shotgun and then killed him by bludgeoning him in the back of the head with a hammer. After killing W.D., he proceeded to the bedroom and shot Elma with a shotgun while she was lying in bed. The defendant then fled the scene in the couple’s car.
Officers arrived to discover Elma still alive. Elma told officers that the defendant had shot her and W.D. and pulled the phone from the wall before escaping in W.D.’s car. Elma later died in the hospital.
Authorities eventually located W.D.’s car, however, they did not locate the defendant until 2005. He was charged with their murders.
At trial, Dr. McCoy testified that the defendant had been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder years before the incident. He described him as “really, very sick. He was the most mentally ill of all the patients in the hospital. He came in reporting bizarre symptoms. He was the sickest one that had been in that hospital in a long time.” Some of his symptoms included: changing the pitch of his voice, burning Bibles, waking up cursing and fighting, talking to himself, covering or breaking mirrors, refusing to use toiletry articles except for toothpaste, sleeping on the top of the covers with his shoes on, slamming doors, jumping off the roof and out of windows at the behest of “voices,” and attacking people. It was Dr. McCoy’s opinion that, at the time the defendant killed his grandparents, he was “laboring under a defect of reason from a disease of the mind.” The doctor believed that the defendant understood the nature and quality of his actions, but that Sanders did not know that what he did was wrong. A second doctor, Dr. Webb, agreed with Dr. McCoy.
A third doctor, Dr. Lott, however, disagreed, concluding that the defendant did know that his conduct was wrong. This was based on the defendant’s well reasoned and planned conduct on the day of the killings and in the years he evaded law enforcement. Specifically, he pointed out that the defendant had unplugged the phone, took the car, and adopted six different aliases over the next twenty years to avoid being caught.
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