Another casualty in the war on the mentally ill

Another casualty in the war on the mentally ill

by digby

This is justice?

David Tarloff, a man with schizophrenia who bludgeoned and stabbed a psychologist to death during a botched robbery six years ago, was found guilty of her murder on Friday by a Manhattan jury that rejected an insanity defense.

The verdict in State Supreme Court came in the third attempt to convict him. A year ago, a mistrial was declared after the jury announced it was deadlocked. The first trial, in 2010, stalled during jury selection when Mr. Tarloff became unstable.

Mr. Tarloff, who appeared with long, scraggly hair in a dingy sweatsuit, betrayed little emotion as the jury forewoman rose to read the verdicts, reached after seven hours of deliberations.

The jury found him guilty of first-degree murder in the attack, with a meat cleaver and a rubber mallet, on the psychologist, Kathryn Faughey. He was also found guilty of assault and attempted robbery for maiming Dr. Kent D. Shinbach, a psychiatrist who shared an office with her.
Mr. Tarloff’s lawyers, Bryan Konoski and Frederick L. Sosinsky, argued that their client had a long history of delusions about communicating directly with God. He told doctors who examined him that his plan to rob Dr. Shinbach — which spun out of control when Dr. Faughey confronted him first — had been sanctioned by the lord.

But the lead prosecutor, Evan Krutoy, argued that Mr. Tarloff’s mental illness never grew so severe that he could not distinguish right from wrong. Nor, he argued, did Mr. Tarloff show signs he was out of touch with reality on the day of the killing.

Mr. Tarloff, 47, told the police he went to Dr. Shinbach’s office on East 79th Street on Feb. 12, 2008, to rob the doctor of $50,000 for a far-fetched scheme to kidnap his mother from a hospital and move with her to Hawaii.
This man is so sick that an earlier trial had to be ended because he was too unstable to continue. Putting him in jail is cruel and unusual punishment --- he needs treatment. Yes, society obviously needs to be protected from him, but it hardly follows that the only possible way that can happen is to put him in prison. The family says they got "justice" but it's very hard for me to see how this is anything but revenge. Revenge against a mentally ill man.

And in case you think the jurors know something that we don't, get a load of this:
Jurors said they were convinced that even though Mr. Tarloff at times had delusions about communicating with God, he still knew that the robbery and murder were immoral in society’s eyes and understood that he had committed a crime.

“He’s sick, but I feel like he knew what he was doing,” said a juror, Dana Torres, 27, a construction worker. “For me, if he had said Satan told him to do this, it would have been a different story.”
Right. Because that makes so much more sense.

The good news is that New York does not use the death penalty so the worst that happens is that this very, very sick man lives out the rest of his life in jail instead of a hospital. Which is pretty damned awful.