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Convicted murderer appealing sentence on claims that being high on mushrooms was cause of his come

Migrated topic.


this story appeared in my Gmail alert today:

A man convicted in the murders of two and attempted murder of another of his friends during a night a drinking alcohol, smoking weed, and(in at least the case of the shooter) eating mushrooms is attempting to appeal his sentence (74 to life) on four points.

Three of which use the mushrooms as defense:

°Calkins claims that prosecutors during jury selection should not have excused the only African-American from the jury pool. The potential juror had worked for years for a criminal defense law firm that had a pending case representing a pending violent Vacaville criminal who also blamed psilocybin mushrooms for his crimes.

°Calkins claims Judge Donna Stashyn erred by not allowing the defense to tell jurors about the crimes of another violent Vacaville criminal who blamed psilocybin mushrooms for his crimes. Oral arguments in the appeal of that case are scheduled to be heard next week.

°Calkins claims Stashyn should have ordered the mushroom-peddling drug dealer to testify

This isn't the first time this defense has been used. It's a horrible story and the short description the events surrounding the shootings is puzzling. I'm sure the circumstances were far more complex, but it is made to sound as if he got up, got a gun and began storing because was suffering some paranoid delusion.What are your feelings about this? Obviously, a person under the influence of that combination drugs could do all sorts of stupid things, is it the person who committed the crime it the drugs in his system that are responsible?
Never ever ever should alcohol be used with shrooms IME. My worst trips ever came this way, paranoia delusions etc... Another friend of mine mixed them with Tequila and thought his best friend was possessed by the devil and got violent. Shrooms can be fun but def not a party drug.

Choosing to do potent hallucinogens with a firearm handy is on him. He had the ability to decide at that point.
If someone is insane enough to start shooting his own friends like that, he's also insane enough to blame the mushrooms for his own actions.

It doesn't matter much anyway: if the mushrooms would ineed be to blame, he doesn't belong out on the Streets where he could stumble upon many more substances capable of causing him to shoot people. And if he's to blame himself, he doesn't belong out on the Streets either.

I bet he has a history of violence, and of dodging the responsibility for his own actions. Normal people don't just end up shooting their own friends. People with a history of violence however, somehow Always do end up committing more senseless acts of violence.
I can appreciate the argument for leniency, based on not being in his right mind, but on the other hand, the families of the victims must have their need for justice satisfied. Ultimately, a man must take responsibility for his actions.
In most cases, intoxication is seen as an aggravating factor rather than a mitigating factor, below is a section regarding UK law.

Intoxication is not a defence to a crime as such, but where a person is intoxicated through drink or drugs and commits a crime, the level of intoxication may be such as to prevent the defendant forming the necessary mens rea of the crime. Public policy plays a strong factor in ascertaining whether the defendant's intoxication may be used by a defendant to negate the mens rea of a crime. It is obviously not in the public interest for criminals to escape liability simply by asserting they were so drunk they did not know what they were doing. This is often seen as an aggravating factor rather than a mitigating factor, particularly where the defendant put himself in that position.

The law has formulated various rules of uncertain ambit in seeking to strike the balance between on the one hand, imposing criminal liability on a party who did not have the mental element of the crime and on the other, protecting the public from those who deliberately put themselves in a postion where they are unable to control their actions. For this reason the law draws a distinction between voluntary intoxication and involuntary intoxication. The law is generally more accomodating to those who have not voluntarily put themselves into an intoxicated state. Intoxication and criminal liability

The USA law is not much different:

Drug and alcohol intoxication, since the mid 1800's, is not itself a defense to a crime. Nonetheless, in many jurisdictions in the United States, drug and alcohol intoxication can be used to raise reasonable doubt about a specific intent that is an integral element of some crimes. All crimes, except strict liability crimes, necessitate both an act (actus reus) and criminal intent (mens rea). If there is no mens rea such as in an accident, an individual cannot be found guilty of a crime requiring criminal intent. This area of the law is complex, differs from state to state, and is much more complicated than the insanity defense. However this knowledge is important whenever forensic psychiatric evaluations are performed in jurisdictions that permit these defenses. It is important for more forensic psychiatrists to become familiar with these issues.

General criminal intent refers to the intent to perform the act. General intent can be negated only by an insanity defense. It is a complete defense, negating the entire mens rea (both general and specific intent). A defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity. Drug and alcohol intoxication alone cannot be the basis for an insanity defense. In addition to general intent, many crimes require an additional specific intent. A specific intent is intent to do some further act or to achieve some additional consequence, in addition to the general intent to do the act. The concept of specific intent was developed as a means of taking drug and alcohol intoxication into account as a partial excuse. Drug and alcohol intoxication can be used to negate only the specific intent in specific intent crimes.

Mens rea defenses are partial defenses that can negate a specific intent and thereby result in a defendant being found guilty of a lesser-included crime. In those jurisdictions that permit such defenses, drug and alcohol intoxication can be used as evidence to raise reasonable doubt about a required specific intent. In some states, such evidence is used affirmatively to negate a required specific intent, and the defense is called "extreme emotional disturbance." Since the mid 1900's, originally in California and later in many other states, mental illness also was included as a way to negate specific intent. The defense became known as diminished capacity and referred to a defendant's capacity to have the specific intent required for a crime. If a diminished capacity defense is successful, the defendant is found guilty of a lesser included crime, thereby resulting in a lesser sentence

If you consumed a substance to the point where you can not control yourself, you are still responsible, as you made the decision to get dangerously intoxicated, there is "involuntary intoxication" which is reserved for a few select situitions:

Involuntary intoxication occurs when someone is tricked into consuming a substance like drugs or alcohol, or when someone is forced to do so. For instance, a woman who has a date rape drug placed in her drink without her knowledge is involuntarily intoxicated. Involuntary intoxication may also occur as a result of an allergy to, or the unintended effects of, a legal prescription medication.

If a charged crime is a specific intent crime, meaning that the criminal defendant must have had the specific intent to commit the crime in question, involuntary intoxication can be a defense to criminal charges if it prevents the defendant from forming the intent that is required. For instance, the defendant may not understand the nature of his or her actions or may be deemed incapable of obtaining the state of mind necessary to commit the crime. A common example is the crime of assault, which requires an intent to cause harm. If an individual becomes violent as a result of an involuntary intoxication and commits an assault, he or she may be able to argue that the intoxication prevented him or her from forming the intent to cause harm.

Involuntary intoxication can also be a defense to a general intent crime if the defendant can establish that the involuntary intoxication acted similarly to an insanity defense and prevented the defendant from understanding the nature of his or her actions or differentiating between right and wrong.

In some cases, the defense of voluntary intoxication does not completely absolve the defendant of liability but instead reduces the overall culpability for the crime. Thus, the defendant might find charges reduced to a lesser crime if he or she successfully proves that intoxication limited his or her intent or comprehension of the crime.

Do any of you guys remember the story of "big lurch"?

Big lurch was a rap artist, who used phencyclidine, then murdered a young woman, eating pieces of her body, needless to say intoxication was not a defense, and big lurch received a life sentence...

Antron Singleton (born September 15, 1976), better known by his stage name Big Lurch, is an American rapper. He is serving a life sentence for murdering 21-year-old roommate Tynisha Ysais and eating parts of her body in April 2002 -Wikipedia

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