Meredith Lowell, 27,has been arrested in a rather bizarre alleged murder plot: to randomly kill a fur wearer. Lowell was charged with soliciting a hit man to shoot a stranger — justifying the hit was akin to liberating people from Nazi concentration camps.
The details of the conspiracy, however, raise serious question about Lowell’s sanity. The FBI set up Lowell after reading a Facebook page Lowell created under the alias Anne Lowery that offered from $830 to $850 for the hit. When an agent contacted her, she said she would pay in jewelry or cash and that the victim should be at least 12 years but “preferably 14 years old or older” outside a library near a playground in her hometown. She added “You need to bring a gun that has a silencer on it and that can be easily concealed in your pants pocket or coat. … If you do not want to risk the possibility of getting caught with a gun before the job, bring a sharp knife that is (at least) 4 inches long, it should be sharp enough to stab someone and/or slit their throat to kill them. I want the person to be dead in less than 2 minutes.” Her ravings include criticism of the new aquarium in Cleveland.
The question is whether the FBI snared a murderer and a mad women. The problem is that states have so limited the insanity defense that Lowell might be effectively barred from using it — as discussed in this column. Ohio is one of the states that curtailed insanity to eliminate many such claims where a person may be able to tell right from wrong. Here is the standard:
R.C. 2901.01(A)(14) — “A person is ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ relative to a charge of an offense only if
the person proves, in the manner specified in section 2901.05 of the Revised Code (i.e. by a preponderance of the evidence), that at the time of the commission of the offense, the person did not know, as a result of a severe mental disease or defect, the wrongfulness of the person’s acts.”
The standard sets a very low standard for sanity. When a person is fully functional and aware that she committing a crime (such as hiring a hitman) it is hard to make an insane claim despite the views of many doctors that the person is mentally ill. In this case, Lowell’s asking for a child to be knifed in a matter of minutes does not seem to signify a sound mind or even a serious threat.
What do you think?