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COA affirms mentally ill man's murder conviction

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was compelled today by Indiana Supreme Court precedent to affirm a murder conviction for a man who was found guilty but mentally ill.

In Gregory L. Galloway v. State of Indiana, No. 33A01-0906-CR-280, Gregory Galloway argued he should have been acquitted on the defense of insanity in the stabbing death of his grandmother. Galloway has a long history of mental illness and was inconsistent with his treatment and taking medication. His family had attempted numerous times to have him institutionalized but couldn't find a place in state that provided long-term secure care. He was in and out of hospitals and facilities his entire adult life and has bipolar disorder, often with severe psychotic and manic symptoms.

He lived with his grandmother - who lived next door to his parents - and had a good relationship with her. But because of his mental illness, his behavior and state of mind could be unpredictable. He often heard voices or believed he could read people's minds.

On the day of his grandmother's murder, he spent the day with her running errands and having lunch without incident. When he returned home, he got a knife and stabbed his grandmother in the chest. Just after the incident, he felt remorse and cooperated with police. He said he thought he would feel better if he stabbed her but he did not.

Galloway was charged with murder and eventually found competent to stand trial. Two psychiatrists testified he was insane at the time of the stabbing; a psychologist initially found Galloway to be sane, but then retracted his opinion after learning more facts about Galloway's behavior around the time of the stabbing.

The trial court found him guilty but mentally ill and sentenced Galloway to 50 years in prison. Henry Circuit Judge Mary G. Willis noted how his family had tried to have him institutionalized, and she would have begged a mental health provider to keep him long term in a civil commitment, but providers did not. She also said she didn't have the option to commit him for life to a mental health institution, but she couldn't allow him to return to the community. Galloway had failed to prove he was insane at the time of the stabbing.

The Court of Appeals relied on Thompson v. State, 804 N.E.2d 1146 (Ind. 2004), to affirm the trial court's verdict. In Thompson, there was overwhelming evidence to establish Thompson's insanity, but the trial court found her guilty but mentally ill. The Supreme Court affirmed, reasoning that a fact-finder is free to disbelieve uncontradicted testimony and that the trial court is entitled to focus on the facts in the record apart from the uncontradicted expert testimony.

In the instant case, the trial court explained its decision was based on Galloway's repeated refusals to take his medication, his drug and alcohol abuse, the danger he posed to himself and society if he were acquitted, that he was able to interact with people and act appropriately on the day of the stabbing, and that he cooperated with police.

Thompson compels the appellate court to affirm the verdict if there is any evidence whatsoever supporting it, no matter how slight, wrote Chief Judge John Baker. The Court of Appeals sympathized with Galloway's position, but the trial court was free to disbelieve any expert and lay testimony.

"Although Galloway's conduct does not foreclose the possibility that he was legally insane at the time of the killing, we are compelled by Thompson to find that it was reasonable for the trial court to conclude that he behaved normally because he was, in fact, sane," wrote the chief judge.

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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