A former Morgan State University student has pled guilty to the murder of a 37-year-old Baltimore man. But, the plea agreement also stipulates that the student is not criminally responsible. The incident grabbed headlines in Maryland and across the country after the student admitted to eating part of the victim's heart and brain.
While there was outcry from the victim's family, the prosecution and psychiatrists advised the court that criminal liability may not exist. The perpetrator has mental conditions that apparently eliminated his ability to possess the intent necessary to be held criminally responsible for the heinous act. While the facts of the case are not readily transferable to most people accused of crimes, this criminal defense strategy is not unique.
All crimes have a mental factor that may be considered. While the intent necessary varies among crimes, certain acts committed as accidents or in the heat of the moment may not merit criminal charges or criminal punishment.
While every case is different, many individuals charged with crimes do not deserve the punishment that a full criminal conviction would entail, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime at issue. Nonetheless, the authorities will not go out of their way to lessen charges and reduce penalties. Rather, the accused may need to negotiate with authorities to lessen charges and impose proper penalties through a plea agreement that is acceptable to all parties involved. Otherwise, those charged with crimes may be forced to endure punishments for crimes more serious than the ones they committed.
Source: ABC News, "Maryland Man Accused of Cannibalism Enters Plea," Brian White, Aug. 19, 2013