Appellate court affirms denial of man’s insanity defense

The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Wednesday the denial of a man’s insanity defense after he was found guilty of two counts of attempted murder.

In November 2013, Reginald Lee Robinson was writing at a desk in the lower floor of the Frankfort Library for hours. When Gladys Brewer and her 4-year-old great-granddaughter left the building, Robinson left too and started stabbing M.L. outside the building with a sharpened screwdriver. Brewer ran over to stop Robinson and was stabbed in the head by him.

The library’s gardener found Robinson leaning against the side of the building. He said to her, “They just wouldn’t leave me alone,” and then told her to call the police and ambulance. Robinson pleaded insanity, but the jury found Robinson was guilty but mentally ill. He was sentenced to 35 years for the attempted murder of M.L. and another 30 for the attempted murder of Brewer, to be served consecutively. Robinson appealed the denial of his insanity defense.

Robinson claimed that the doctor who interviewed him and then testified in court against him did not spend enough time with him, took no notes and relied upon other records available to him when making his decision.  

The COA said in a decision written by Judge Elaine Brown that the doctor’s opinion could be persuasive. “The jury, in assessing the weight of Dr. Little’s testimony, was able to consider his testimony regarding the length of his interview of Robinson, the fact he drew upon other records available to him to familiarize himself with the details of the stabbing, and the fact that he did not have any notes from his meeting with Robinson,” Brown wrote.

Also, Robinson’s attorney cross-examined the doctor for weaknesses in his testimony. Even though the interview took place well after the incident, it does not make the interview meaningless, Brown wrote.

There was also sufficient lay testimony to uphold Robinson’s conviction, Brown wrote, further strengthening the court’s conviction.

Judge Paul Mathias concurred in a separate opinion but wanted to point out “the inadequacy of our criminal justice system when confronted with defendants who are mentally ill. Psychiatric examinations of a defendant who likely suffers from mental illness should occur shortly after arrest and before any administration of psychotropic medication in jail to more accurately determine whether the defendant could have possibly had the requisite scienter or mens rea at the time of the crime.”

The case is Reginald Lee Robinson v. State of Indiana, 12A02-1507-CR-784.


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