Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mendenhall Chronicles: Part Seven

A couple problems with the shared psychotic disorder insanity defense are apparent from looking at the record in the case.  First, while a defense expert witness did examine Auggie and testified in support of the insanity defense, there was no examination of Burke to determine if he too had a psychotic disorder.  If the defense is that Auggie got his psychosis from Burke, one would think Burke too should have been examined by a psychiatrist and that expert testimony presented to the jury.

A second problem is that the nature of shared psychotic disorder is that the primary and secondary are close, and usually live together.  While Auggie had moved back into Burke’s Indiana home a few months before his altercation with DeLaney, Auggie had otherwise lived for years outside of Burke’s home and even outside of Indiana.  As an adult, Auggie had served in the Air Force, gotten married (and divorced), and worked in Florida.

To advance the insanity defense, Crawford put on evidence that suggested the lifelong animosity that Auggie and Burke harbored toward Delaney was without any justification, indeed delusional.  The flip side is that Crawford sought to prove Delaney was a man of integrity, someone who had done absolutely nothing that should have made Burke and Auggie upset, much less have caused such a bitter grudge that Auggie felt compelled to act on years later.

Auggie Mendenhall
Crawford’s final argument, highlights his denunciation of the Mendenhalls and praise of DeLaney:

When I grew up, I think in many neighborhoods there was always a crazy house in the neighborhood.  I used to walk to school and as a kid we’d always avoid Mr. Daniels’ house. That was the crazy house.  There were crazy people there.  They did odd thing things they said odd things.  We avoided them.  When you walk down the street and you see someone talking to themselves in an unusual peculiar manner a lot of us will avoid eye contract with that person.  Because we don’t want to engage a crazy person.  And that’s what this case is about.  So many strange unusual happenings in this case.  The way DeLaney and Mendenhall got together.  Strange, unusual….

[Delaney] filed a suit, an injunction to shut down the building out of the porno shop for ten days, ten days.  He was actively involved in this case for about two months and then Goldsmith took over.  Ed Delaney had nothing to do with it. The idea that it’s Ed DeLaney that caused the misfortune for this family is in August Mendenhall’s head.

It’s his senseless psychotic rant against Delaney that makes no sense in the world.  Burke Mendenhall would gladly let Ed DeLaney administer any beating, whipping, hands down, no resistance if he could restore his life prior to Delaney’s and Goldsmith’s unbridled quest for greed, political power, publicity and money…. I say there’s nothing to support that.  That DeLaney ruined Burke Mendenhall’s life.  Maybe Goldsmith and that’s a stretch.  The only reason he believes it is he’s sick as the day is long.  He’s as crazy if not crazier than his son.

The doctors talked about a possible cure for shared psychotic disorder.  What’s the cure. Separation from the crazy person in the house.  Separation. Cole (Auggie’s brother) got separation.  And he survived.  Auggie didn’t.  He was a living with his dad at the time this happened.

Let me tell you one reason, I know he’s crazy.  And you should know too. To choose DeLaney for something like this.  To show that Edward DeLaney represents the powers of society hurting little people is absolutely ridiculous and crazy. The DeLaney name is a prominent name in our community.  And he and his wife have fought hard for people’s rights.  For the rights of the accused. For the downtrodden. For the little people. That’s his reputation.  The name DeLaney stands for justice in this community. It stands for helping people fight government.  Not hurting people.  In [Auggie’s] crazy mind he thought he was a bad man.  But he’s not.  Far from it.  If you were going to pick a legislator to go after you wouldn’t pick Edward Delaney for oppressing small little people or using his position to hurt families.  That’s the antithesis of who that man is and what that family name means.  His wife has worked hard for the rights of person [sic] who are victims of domestic violence.  He has stood up for the rights of people and the rights of the accused and the rights of the mentally ill and the disabled time and time again.  That’s who he is.  How did they pick him of all the people that he’ could pick.  Because he’s sick.  And if the name DeLaney means anything in my opinion it stands for, in our community, doing the right thing.  Doing the right thing….

The final argument, viewed in isolation, makes one wonder who Crawford represents. But the argument is consistent with Crawford’s aggressive pursuit of insanity on behalf of his client.  It could well be that Auggie insisted on total exoneration for his actions, which could have only been achieved with the insanity defense.  In the end, the jury did find Auggie guilty but mentally ill, a designation though which did not really help in term of the length of his sentence. 

Some quick clarifications and corrections to Crawford’s final argument quoted above.  As already noted, while Auggie was living with his father at the time of the incident, that was only a recent development.  The injunction civil case Delaney filed against Mendenhall on behalf of his client, property owner DeBartolo Corporation, lasted for more than “two months.”  Finally, Goldsmith certainly did not take over that injunction case from DeLaney (although the assertion highlights how the two lawsuits were essentially aimed at the same goal.)  Goldsmith, in his role as Marion County Prosecutor, pursued, quite aggressively, a separate civil forfeiture case against Burke.

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