Johnnie Horne was fixing dinner on July 8, 1996, when his troubled younger son walked into the kitchen. Horne's wife, Mary Anne, was on the phone in another room when she heard the first gunshots. When she rushed into the kitchen where her husband lay dying, her son turned the gun on her. After killing his mother, Lavenston Horne took aim at his sister, Inga, shooting her over and over again.
"Who's the king now?" he yelled at her.
That's a pretty insane thing to do. But when he was arrested, Horne claimed his father did the shooting and turned the gun on himself. That most improbable lie, according to the lawyers, made an insanity defense very difficult because it indicated an understanding that killing was wrong.
Nevertheless, the defense team was able to convince the jury to send the killer to the state mental hospital instead of the penitentiary. One theory as to why the jury came to this decision is the way the defendant appeared in court. Often that has a greater impact on their decision than the actual inciden itself.
I mark this as another indication of the positive direction we're moving: away from the death penalty. As Sarah wrote the other day, cases like these can one day result in "the death knell for the death penalty."
What's your opinion? Should killers who are completely crazy be held accountable? Should they be judged with the same standard as say the mafia hit man who does it for money?
Please tell us what you think.