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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: insanity

‘Archangel of Death’ stalking suspect has week to plead insanity

A federal judge has given a Spokane man found with modified weapons and a journal proclaiming himself the embodiment of God's wrath one week to decide if he'll seek an insanity defense.

An order signed by U.S. District Judge for Eastern Washington Thomas Rice grants Brent Russ, 33, until Oct. 31 to decide if he plans to plead insanity after a grand jury indicted him on a federal stalking charge. Russ is accused of sending threatening communications through U.S. mail to a former neighbor, who is also a tribal police officer.

When FBI agents arrived at Russ' southwest Spokane home last month, they also found a modified handgun, shotgun and rifle designed to inflict greater harm to targets. A search of Russ' home also revealed a lengthy journal, now under court seal, in which Russ identifies himself as Azrael, the Archangel of Death, and states his willingness to die in battle against the forces of evil.

Rice ordered the timetable in an effort to speed the proceedings. Russ has remained in custody of federal authorities since his arrest Sept. 26. Rice described the evidence provided by the federal government illustrating Russ' erratic behavior prior to his arrest as a “strong showing” in documents filed Thursday.

Morbid question leads to legal oddity

Questions about whether an accused killer had sex with his victim before or after she was dead has led to the suspect's lawyer being named a witness in the case.

A judge ruled Monday that defense attorney Chris Bugbee will continue to represent accused crossbow killer Cole K. Strandberg (pictured in February).

Bugbee has a different recollection of what his client said during a mental health exam regarding when he had sex with the victim than the doctors, putting the defense lawyer in the unusual position of having to present Strandberg’s legal defense as well as present testimony as a sworn witness.

Because of that potential conflict, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Mark Cipolla asked Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen to remove Bugbee as Strandberg’s attorney. The judge rejected it.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Jury to decide Cole Strandberg’s fate

A Spokane County jury will now decide whether Cole K. Strandberg should face the prospect of life imprisonment or indefinite commitment to a mental institution after a judge concluded he was sane in 2008 when he shot a woman with a crossbow. 

Superior Court Judge Tari Eitzen was highly critical of the review of Strandberg’s case by mental health professionals at Eastern State Hospital, but found that the 24-year-old mentally ill man probably was not insane on Jan. 7, 2008, when authorities said he killed 22-year-old Jennifer Bergeron.

“I cannot find… that Mr. Strandberg was insane at the time of the act,” Eitzen said. “But the question should be submitted to the jury.”

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Past coverage:

Feb. 16, 2011: Strandberg trial testimony questions mental evaluations

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Strandberg to Bugbee: ‘I have a wife’

Accused killer Cole K. Strandberg has done little during the two days he's spent in Judge Tari Etizen's courtroom. 

But on Monday, he made sure his marital status was clear.

 After his lawyer, Chris Bugbee, (left) asked a neuropsychologist about discussions of Strandberg's mystical world and plans by the defendant's fictitious wife for a trip to Europe, Strandberg blurted out, “I have a wife, asshole.” 

It was another bizarre moment in a court hearing set to determine if Strandberg can stand trial for January 2008 crossbow slaying of Jennifer Bergeron, or if he should be found not guilty to be reason of insanity.

“He says he was married in Las Vegas Washington, so there are no records in this world,” Dr. Craig Beaver testified on Monday. “He’ll just go to another time or his wife will come get him and take him to Europe. So (the criminal charge) just doesn’t matter.”

Strandberg has his wrists bolted to the courtroom table and his legs bolted to his chair.

On Tuesday, he wore a face mask at Bugbee's request. Strandberg had spit in the lawyer's face at the end of Monday's hearing.

Strandberg is pictured up top on Tuesday.

Past coverage:

Feb. 26, 2010: Strandberg on cable TV: 'The horror is real'

Jan. 16, 2008: Strandberg's parents struggled to get him treatment

Man in ‘caffeine psychosis’ crashes acquitted

(AP) A Moscow man whose lawyer blamed caffeine-induced psychosis for alleged hit-and-run crashes at Washington State University in December has been acquitted by reason of insanity.

Whitman County Superior Court Judge David Frazier ruled today that Daniel Noble, 31, was temporarily insane during the Dec. 9 incident and acquitted him of two felony counts of vehicular assault, two felony counts of hit-and-run and misdemeanor resisting arrest.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Frazier granted a defense motion to acquit Noble based on Noble’s attorney’s intent to use an insanity defense at trial.

The two crashes injured pedestrians, Neil Waldbjorn, 19, of Malaga, Wash., and Hogun Hahm, 23, of Pullman. Each suffered a broken leg. Officers used a Taser to subdue Noble.

Noble’s attorney, Mark Moorer, had previously said his client was suffering from caffeine-induced psychosis brought on by too much coffee and energy drinks.

Past coverage:

March 11: ‘Caffeine psychosis’ defendant fit for trial

Dec. 9: Lawyer: Blame it on the caffeine

Insanity leads to acquittal in machete attack

A man arrested in a machete attack that sliced a Spokane teenager last summer has been acquitted of the crime by reason of insanity.

Douglas W. Harmon, the brother of the man who went on an apparent LSD-fueled shooting spree in Spokane in 1971, was accused of attacking a teenage couple with the blade outside Harmon’s Spokane apartment June 17.

Eddie Ramsey required more than 100 stitches after the machete sliced his face from his life ear to his jaw, shattered a bone in his life wrist and took a chunk out of his hair

Harmon was charged with assault but quickly transported from the jail to Eastern State Hospital. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity on April 14, and Judge Ellen Kalama Clark acquitted him that day, according to court records.

His brother, Larry Harmon was 21 when he stormed St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church with a .22-caliber rifle Nov. 11, 1971, killing a janitor and injuring four others before being shot to death by police.

The men’s late father, E. Glenn Harmon, was a journalist and prominent Spokane attorney who represented The Spokesman-Review and Spokane Chronicle.

Past coverage:

June 24: Suspect in machete attack is brother of GU gunman

June 18: Machete victim: ‘I thought I was going to die’

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