CRIME AND PUNISHMENT: Sabina Killer’s Lawyers Argue The Bad Brain Defense To Save His Life

 PW: After his arrest, Johnson negotiated with the commonwealth for a plea deal that spared his life; the state offered life plus 40 to 80 years. But the day he was scheduled to sign, Johnson surprised the court by firing his court-appointed attorney, hiring a private lawyer and rejecting the plea. Then, in a hearing last year, Judge Renee Cardwell-Hughes had to advise Johnson that he technically had no counsel, since his new attorney had not been paid. Now, court-appointed attorneys Lee Mandell and Gary Server are representing Johnson. Server introduced three last-minute strategies designed to save Johnson’s life. Two days ago, Server filed paperwork to show that he intends to constitute a defense based on a psychological evaluation of Johnson. It’s already been determined that Johnson’s IQ is not low enough to disqualify him from the death penalty. But Server is arguing that “organic brain dysfunction affecting the right frontal region” of Johnson’s brain will bring the “deliberateness” of the murder—a factor in death penalty—into question. “We will be asking the court to permit expert testimony … about what my client’s state of mind was at the time of the murder,” said Server. “The jury must find that he acted willfully and deliberately before they can reach a conclusion that he had a specific intent to kill.” MORE

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