COA affirms attempted murder conviction, denial of insanity defense

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A man convicted of attacking and trying to kill his mother’s boyfriend was not prejudiced when a judge denied his request to pursue an insanity defense, a Court of Appeals majority ruled. But a dissenting judge said the man had good cause and would remand for a new trial.

In Shaheen Zamani v. State of Indiana, 32A05-1406-CR-264, Judge Elaine Brown wrote for the majority joined by Judge L. Mark Bailey that “the trial court did not abuse its discretion in determining that Zamani did not demonstrate good cause as to why his late notice should be accepted and thus in denying his belated, verbal motion to assert an insanity defense.”

Zamani was convicted and sentenced to 65 years in the Department of Correction for a knife attack against his mother’s boyfriend during a stay-over at the Plainfield residence his mother shared with the victim. Despite Zamani’s history of mental illness, a commitment to Logansport State Hospital after the attack, and evaluations finding he has schizophrenia, the majority affirmed the verdict.

Judge Margret Robb dissented and would remand for a new trial before Hendricks Superior Judge Mark A. Smith. She wrote Zamani’s mental health had been an issue from the outset and assertion of an insanity defense could not have come as a shock to the state.

“Because I believe Zamani showed good cause for allowing the filing of a notice of intent to assert an insanity defense and that such filing would be in the interest of justice, I would hold that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the notice to assert an insanity defense,” Robb wrote.

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