Thomas George Barlas will be relying on an insanity defense at his first-degree murder trial on August 6, 2014. The case will be tried in Mason City, Iowa. Barlas will be facing trial for allegedly killing his father. If convicted, Barlas would likely face life in prison. The trial was supposed to be on July 21, 2014 but Barlas has now requested a bench trial over a jury trial. A bench trial is when a judge will hear and decide a case, rather than a jury. Barlas allegedly stabbed his father multiple times in the chest. A motivation is still unknown. Barlas’s father was married for 44 years to his wife Kathy and had three children together.
What is an insanity defense?
An insanity defense means arguing that a person is not guilty by reason of insanity. The insanity defense is used in less than one percent of cases with only a quarter of those being successful. To prove a defendant is legally insane, a defendant must prove that at the time of the murder he suffered from a mental disease. He must also have to prove that because of that mental illness, he didn’t know that what he did was wrong. The name of the test used is the “M’Naghten test.” An expert psychologist needs to be called as a witness in an insanity defense case. The burden of proof is on the defendant.
Minnesota Stat. 611.026 states: No person shall be tried, sentenced, or punished for any crime while mentally ill or mentally deficient so as to be incapable of understanding the proceedings or making a defense; but the person shall not be excused from criminal liability except upon proof that at the time of committing the alleged criminal act the person was laboring under such a defect of reason, from one of these causes, as not to know the nature of the act, or that it was wrong.
If you have been charged with a crime and believe you suffer from mental illness, contact an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney to argue the elements of the insanity defense. Max A. Keller offers free consultations.