Steven Burgoyne Pleads Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Joe: 106.7 WIZN. That’s Tom Petty and “Free Fallin’.” Joe Vega here with you on your Wednesday “Rocking Ride Home.” So, I wasn’t able to get Ben Berry from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti on the phone, but we were able to get the man himself, Paul Harding. Paul, how you doing?

Paul: Hi Joe, how are you?

Joe: I’m good. Thanks for coming on the show. I wanted to talk to you about some admittedly dark subject matter here, something that we normally don’t do on the “Rocking Ride Home.” But, as you know, today is day three in the trial of Steven Burgoyne, who is on trial for killing five teenagers. And, of course, he has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and I just wanted to get your take on that.

Paul: Absolutely. I mean, just such a tragic, tragic case and just has so many twists and turns. And now for the families to have to go through this trial it feels like they’re going through this a second time here.

Joe: Absolutely.

Paul: Yeah, tricky. But what you have is the insanity defense is, first of all, it rarely is used. It sounds like something that we hear a lot on TV. People declare, but it really isn’t youth a lot practically in our criminal justice system. And when it is used, it really is not successful a whole lot because the burden to prove it is on the defendant. So, here, in essence, what you have to show, you have to show that the person who committed the crime, the act, is not held responsible, meaning he didn’t understand what he or she was doing.

In this case, with Burgoyne, like he wouldn’t know that his actions would lead to danger. And, in this case, death of these five innocent people. So, to prove that you’re going to see psychiatrists, and they’re going to be on there, and they’re going say things about the defendant, and then the prosecution is going to bring their experts in. It really is a battle of the experts. But the jury would have to believe that at the time of this accident and, of course, the way this thing went down and the horrific facts, and then he leaves, and comes back in a police car, they would have to believe that he did not have the mental ability to decipher that he was doing something wrong and it was a dangerous act. It is a really high, high burden of proof.

Joe: Right. And let’s say just, hypothetically speaking, that he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, he’s not going to be here on the streets, right?

Paul: So, yeah, there’s all different stages of this. So, sometimes you get indicted and they say, “Well, we can’t indict them because mental incapacity or insanity.” So, therefore, they wait to see, they put them in a hospital, and if he becomes sane and he becomes able to do that, then they can proceed.

In this case, if they find not guilty by reason of insanity, that doesn’t mean he’s on the street immediately. He’ll then go to a hearing and they’ll decide where he should go, but he’s not going to be held guilty. The victims, the families of the victims are not going to find that anyone is held accountable for this. And so, his time might be in a mental hospital, but it will not be in a jail. And, of course, he won’t be at that mental hospital nearly as long as a sentence would if he’s found guilty of murder.

Paul: Wow. All right. Well, Paul, thanks for coming on the program and explaining that to us. We really appreciate your time. Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. Thank you, Paul.

Paul: You’re welcome.

Joe: You can call Martin, Harding & Mazzotti at 1-800-LAW-10-10 and they’re online at Mel Allen taking over from here. He’s got music from Yes and Foreigner, next.