Case Caption: Lawrence King v. People of the Virgin IslandsCase Number: S. Ct. Crim. No. 2015-0113Date: 08/21/2017Author: Cabret, Maria M. Citation: Summary:

Under 14 V.I. C. § 14(4) all persons are capable of committing crimes or offenses except persons who are mentally ill and who committed the act charged against them in consequence of such mental illness. If a defendant introduces a slight quantum of evidence that he was mentally ill and committed the charged offense as a result of that illness, the People must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant either did not suffer from a mental illness, or was not acting as a result of that mental illness when he committed the charged offense. In this prosecution for burglary in the second degree, destruction of property, disturbance of the peace, and trespass, although the court should instruct the jury on the consequences of returning a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity verdict when a defendant has raised the insanity defense and has requested such an instruction, the Superior Court did not err when it issued its jury instructions in this case because the defendant did not request such an instruction and the record reveals no conduct that would obligate the court to issue such an instruction sua sponte. Nonetheless the Superior Court erred in denying the defendant's motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict because the People failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was sane when he committed the offenses with which he was charged. Here the people did not present expert proof but relied on attempted impeachment of the defense expert, and offered lay testimony from two witnesses – one of whom lacked familiarity with the defendant sufficient to give his testimony value in determining the defendant's sanity, and the other of whom gave testimony that in fact supported the defendant's contention. Because the People failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant was sane when he committed the offenses charged, the November 18, 2015 judgment and commitment is reversed and this matter is remanded with instructions to enter a judgment of not guilty by reason of insanity on all counts.

Attachment: Open Document or Opinion