Summarizes "Insanity Plea" by William J.Winslade and Judith Wilson Ross. Speaks also about different ways people have used and abused the Criminal Justice System using The Insanity Plea

Essay by Durin PlatnickCollege, UndergraduateB, September 1996

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I will first talk about the case of Dan White. On November


1978, Preliminary reports began broadcasting news of the events in


town called Jonestown, at first all that was known, was that people

of a

religious cult shot and may have even killed California


Leo Ryan. Then on November 27, 9 days after the news of the

death of

Congressman Ryan another 2 deaths happened. George Moscone,


mayor of San Francisco, and Harvey Milk, a city supervisor and


leader of San Francisco's politically active gay community, had


shot and killed at death in the San Francisco City Hall. The Police


sniffed-out and charged Dan White with the murders of the 3


In 2 years the trial ended with the verdict of guilty on the account


manslaughter. He was later sentenced to 7 years and 8 months in a

Prison, with a possibility of parole after 5.

After the verdict there


Riots breaking out in the streets because of the verdict. Before

hand he

was elected a Supervisor and resigned because he didn't like the


that Politics worked. The point before, that I may not have


is that the defense argued that he was insane and that 'a person

with a

normal background who was brought up in a good home,

something is

obviously missing.' Since he was being charged on 3 accounts of

Murder in the 1st, they somewhat bought the insane defense so


lowered his charges to 1 account of voluntary manslaughter, where


received 7 years and 8 months with a possibility of parole after 5


In the summer of 1978, Lyman Bostock seemed to have it


very good. He was one of the 3 highest paid players EVER in the

American League and he was highly regarded by fans and


alike. Then one errie, summer night at 10:30 Lyman Bostock was

gunned down at Fifth and Jackson in downtown Gary, Illinois

while he

was riding in the back seat of his uncle's Buick with a twelve gauge

hot gun, that was fired by a Mr Leonard Smith. Leonard Smith

was a

33 year old, unemployed Truck Driver, who lived in Illinois. He


never met or seen Lyman Bostock, but if you think about it, if he

actually sat down to think about it, a pro baseball player would

obviously be very high. Leonard had dreamed about getting it as


as Lyman, he dreamt about a wife, a kid, a dog, a nice house with a

fence around it, and job security, but his attempts always failed


of things like his wife, his employers, racial prejudice and life


Although it was not lucky at all for Lyman to be on Fifth avenue


having his skull blasted away with a gun, it because extremely


lucky for Bostock because in 21 months after the shooting, he


out of jail after receiving 4 months of physiciatric treatment and


months of evaluation. He was found not guilty of all charges due

to the

plea of Insanity. To get that verdict he had to go through 2 trials.


the first trial, that lasted 3 days, it ended in a hung jury. Dr. Frank

Hoggle and Dr. Lee Michael testified in the 1st trial. Dr Hoggle


him on and off for about 3 months. Dr Perioclat only saw him


nd each of those times they were very brief. Both had testified,


he was both legally sane. Dr Hogle was a little doubtful about his

legally sane verdict but the other one was very certain of it. In the

second trial that was held, they eventually got to the not guilty


due to insanity and some time in a crazy phicility(is that a scientific


The last case that I will tell you about in this report is the case


Robert Torsney. Robert Torsney was a New York City Cop who


carried around his gun. The killing occurred in daylight while he


sober, working, alert, and paying attention to details. Torsney had


stable job, was happily married and was in good physical health.

On the

night of Thanksgiving, Torsney fired his gun at 15 year old, Randy

Evan's from a distance of about 20 inches, penetrating his skull


penetrated his brain and he died. He left the kid laying there, dying


the street as he casually walked back to the car with the 2 other


that were in the car. Needless to say, they arrested him and he was


brought to court on the charges of 1st degree murder where he was

found not guilty due to the plea of Insanity. On Thanksgiving Day,

1976, Torsney had to work and was unhappy about it. At thirty-


he had been on the force for about 8 years and he was sick and

tired of

the conditions he had to work through. He would rather be at


with his wife and kids at Thanksgiving, just like the average person


America was doing. He made a note of the crappiness that he felt


the top of his log book that read 'Happy Working Felony

Thanksgiving.' The police officer received a call from a residence

of a

neighbor hood that a person with a gun was lurking around.


Robert Faity, Matt Williams and Torsney were dispatched to the


Houses. He searched the house and found nothing. He undid the

leather to allow easy access to his gun as he came out of the


A group of black teenagers, including Randy approached the


and shouted out to Torsney and asked if his apartment had been

searched. Torsney immediately pulled his gun and shot him in the

head. Torsney was found with 5 years in a Loony Bin with help


other people.

The book itself only gave the plain hard facts on the case and the

author did not say anything about his oppinion on any case so I will

expand my oppinion. I think that the Insanity Plea is often mis-


ordianary people just like you and me get of with only 4 years in a

mental home for killing people. Also the people who actually ARE

insane sometimes get ruled down and are put in jail, where they


even more crimes.

So as you can see, sometimes the Insanity plea was put to


use and some bad, well I guess that is just an opinion. There were

more cases left in the book but those were the most important ones


the book, if I took the time to do all of them, This report would be


pages long. I thank you for reading it, adios.