Recent Court Cases: Mental Illness

Docket: Pen-15-205
2016 ME 37; 2016 Me. LEXIS 37
February 11, 2016, Argued
March 3, 2016, Decided

This appeal concerts the prior case of State of Maine vs Leanna M. Norris, which resulted in a conviction of murder in 2015.  The appellant claimed to be wronged by the court because it did not find that she proved her “defense that she was not criminally responsible by reason of a mental disease”, and by “finding, beyond a reasonable doubt, that her actions in killing her daughter were intentional or knowing”.  The background for the first court case is that after an argument with the father, after which she spent two hours driving to various towns while giving her daughter a large dose of diphenhydramine, the ingredient in Benadryl, in the end suffocating her daughter with duct tape and a blanket.  After this Leanna Norris attempted to take her own life by taking 200 Advil pills and covering her face with duct tape.

Over the course of the trial her mental health was evaluated and professionals testified that Norris had major depressive disorder and social anxiety disorder.  However, in their testimony they all agreed that Norris wasn’t psychotic or delusional on the day of the murder, as her reasoning was based on reality and that her disorders did not prevent her from intentionally killing her daughter and that Norris understood the wrongfulness of her actions when she committed the murder. As such, her appeal towards the conviction did not work because the court affirmed that her mental illness did not prevent her from understanding her actions.

Forensic Summary by Viktor Naumovski


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