See Food

We’ve set aside our musings about free will and moral responsibility for a while now, but a story making its way around the grapevine certainly seems relevant. It’s an insanity-defense case from Texas in which the defendant killed his wife and two children.

We read;

Andre Thomas raised 44 claims in his petition to the state’s highest criminal court, challenging his conviction and death sentence for the murder of his estranged wife’s 13-month-old daughter five years ago in Grayson County in North Texas.

His wife and their 4-year-old son were killed in the same attack. The victims were stabbed and their hearts were ripped out. Thomas, 26, of Texoma, walked into the Sherman Police Department, admitted to the killings and said God told him to commit them.

The nine-member Texas Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously upheld Thomas’ conviction and punishment.

Thomas “is clearly ’crazy,’ but he is also ’sane’ under Texas law,” Judge Cathy Cochran wrote in a 14-page statement accompanying the court’s brief order.

Shortly after being incarcerated in 2005 Thomas plucked out his right eye, and then this past December pulled out his other eye and ate it.

Clearly this man is not quite “sane” in the usual sense of the word, and should not be out in public. But the important question of diminished moral responsibility is not so simple, and this story reminds me that we left off this topic rather abruptly a few months ago, and pick up the thread again.

Read the story here.

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4 Comments

  1. I shared this story with my husband the other night, right before he was heading off to bed. He still hasn’t forgiven me.

    Posted March 22, 2009 at 3:45 am | Permalink
  2. Kevin Kim says

    One can do crazy things and still be sane. I had the misfortune of clicking a link on a friend’s blog that led to a horrifying video of a Middle Eastern wedding at which the groom was killed by a stray shot from a celebrant’s crazily firing AK-47. The triggerman had no clue what was about to happen as the gun bucked in his hand.

    Kevin

    Posted March 22, 2009 at 3:55 am | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    I’d say that falls not under insane, but “stupid” — stupid enough that you’d think some sort of Darwinian-style cultural selection would get right to work. But I suppose there is, sadly, a compensating tendency toward fecundity. It’s like what biologists call the “r-strategy“.

    Posted March 22, 2009 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  4. Kevin Kim says

    There’s probably a great deal of overlap between “stupid” and “insane.” Heh.

    Kevin

    Posted March 23, 2009 at 2:30 am | Permalink