Sheila LaBarre has been accused of murdering two men in New Hampshire. At trial she has admitted the prosecution has enough evidence to prove she killed them and then burned one of their bodies but made a not guilty by reason of insanity plea. She has stated that both men were pedophiles and made statements that she was an angel sent by God to get rid of pedophiles.
New Hampshire’s law with regard to insanity in criminal cases uses a two-pronged test to determine whether a defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity. The burden is on the defense to present a case to prove insanity. That is why the defense goes first in an insanity trial, the opposite of a usual trial.
The defense must first show that LaBarre suffered from a mental disease or defect. Then, it must show the murders were a product of that mental disease or defect. Neither “mental disease” or “defect” has been defined by the Legislature or the courts which means it is up to the jury to decide whether the evidence presented about LaBarre qualifies.
How would the defense go about proving LaBarre’s insanity under the New Hampshire statute? Under M’Nagthen? Under Durham? Do you think they would be successful? Why or why not?