Reason for Referral
The case of Mr. H, who shot dead a man in his apartment complex for allegedly continually playing music loudly at night, is an intriguing one worth the study to unearth the not answered questions that could render him as incompetent to have stood trial. His actions of murder led the jury to give a verdict that would send him into prison for second-degree murder punishable by life incarceration with no parole for ten years.
The defendant admitted of shooting the deceased person and felt he had the right or justified to have carried out his actions. This was so for his reason that claimed a voice instructed him to kill the man. The defendant openly acknowledged that there was an unseen voice that instructed and compelled him to murder the now diseased person. Before this event, the offender had no previous mental illness or a history of mental failure or mental hallucinations. He presented no irrational thoughts or antagonism as he discussed the issue with the detective working on the case. Having lost his father two years ago and moving out of his mother’s house led to an increased sense of responsibility and stress. He admitted to hearing voices while driving to a grocery. This was a clear indication of something not adding up properly to explain the normality of the offender.
Despite the offender’s cooperation, he does not seem remorseful of his actions regardless of the life sentence he now faces that would see him punished by life incarceration with no parole for ten years. He felt convinced that he had done something good or right to his eyes despite the court and all the jury charging him guilty. At this point, it is clear that the offender is not competent to stand trial at that moment. At this moment as Cohen, Swerdlik & Sturman (2013) rightly put it, it is important for a forensic evaluation to be carried out on the defendant to help develop an understanding of his real mental state and the motives behind his actions. Because it is inhuman for one to kill and feel justified to have done so for reasons that a voice of unseen and unknown person asked him to execute the killing. Recent losses in his life, for instance the death of his father, could be a clear evidence of escalated stress level in his life that lead him to find pleasure and relief in murder. For this reasons I found this an interesting case to handle in helping to decipher the real motive behind the murder.
Before instigating the interview it of importance for me to as a psychological professional to answer elements such as what factors do I need to consider in my forensic assessment procedure. Answer concerns such as what behavioral shifts which could be normal or abnormal present with the defendant; in the presence of many tests to evaluate such what are some of the assessment tests am I going to deploy; how possible is it going to be for me to get an honest outcome from this forensic examination or analysis in order to avoid unprecedented mistakes and improper judgment; how am I going to make sure that the information received is genuine in relation to the possibility of the client’s malingering and deception actions; what are the theoretical orientations am I going to use in relation to this case scenario; why should there be a referral; the purpose of the forensic report; how am I going to understand, take, synthesis and present the findings of this given case; the identification and determining the context of understanding this particular case which is largely contributed by the background history of the client; the interview type and approach to be taken and lastly determine the collateral information to use in the interview.
Considering the case scenario, the client is subject to mental and IQ assessment to determine the wellness of his mind and thinking process in relation to his case in particular the time of murder. The following questions were put to task to determine the proper results of the forensic assessment; questions such as what is the worth of life; who who’s voice was demanding the killing; do you see your father in dream or visions at night; do you often speak to the dead; when last did you communicate with your father; what is wrong with playing loud music at night; did you ask dad for help or counsel before murdering the man; how often did the now dead man play music loudly; did you ever warn him by asking him to play low music at night; did the diseased have a problem with your dead father, and would you repeat the same mistake if your father were alive. These questions were deployed to address the concerned mental condition of the defendant and written test and exercise was given to determine the Intelligence quotient test. Both the assessments revealed that the offender was competent to stand trial for he was mentally challenged.
The results indicated that he was suffering from high levels of stress that led to him hallucinating. The offender must be suffering from the difficulties of not accepting the reality that the father is dead, as a result he keeps on seeing the father in dreams communicating to him and instructing him on what to do in most of the cases. From the IQ and mental illness report, the defendant acknowledged that his father had some existing problems with the person he murdered. This is a clear connection that from the existing knowledge of him knowing that the dead father and the murdered person in conjunction to the inability to accept the father’s death hence being part of his life to instruct him on what to do the defendant understood to be advised by the father to murder his allies!
This was also initiated by the fact that the offender was fed up with the repeated nature of playing loud music at night. According to him the voice was clearly the father’s voice asking him to avenge his enemy. With this it is clear that the offender was competent to stand in trial for the results shows that he is suffering from both mental and reasoning problems. At this state of being affected by his resent father’s death the offender needs rehabilitation to help him deal with the father’s death in order to return to normal thinking and reasoning upon having back his right senses.
Behaviorally, the client seems controlled by an external force, which instructs his to do that he does. Identified as a voice, more specifically the father’s voice, through hallucinations the offender has no conscious behavior of his own. This is again due to the fact that he has failed to let go the fact that his father is long dead, and that he is no-longer in the land of the living. Medically, it is termed that the offender is under the period of grieving, a moment where he is still straggling to accept that a loved one is long gone, dead and now far away from them. Hence, choose to relay past memories of the same loved ones to think, feel and understand that the death are still in their company realistically though they are dead. This is a condition that needs expertise medical attention to help ease through the grieving period for the individual to return back to his normal thinking state. One that does not depend on dead people’s voice to behave rather uses its moral conscious to behave and act.
Current Life Situation
The current situation of the offender is in a critical moment given the fact that he is sentenced to imprisonment with his condition of mind and thinking ability. This could jeopardize not only the inmate but also the staff who will be attending to given that they have little knowledge on how to deal with such mentally challenged people. The client/offender/defendant is slowly gaining thought that his father is dead; this was clear from the interview and status data. Though to a minimal degree the offender stands at a well degree of identifying the voice not to be his real father bath he believes and he is convinced that it is still his father speaking is reality. The greatest problem here is that the man headed to prison with a medical condition that may put at risk all other people that he is to mingle and stay within the term of his serving if not given medical assistant. His current life situation is unfit to be imprisoned with other people for the reasons of the risks it could cause. With resent treatment received in the course of the interview tremendous improvements have been noticed, the offender would at some point break into tears at the remembrance of the absence of the father. Apparently, the accused is not only suffering from the father’s loss but also of the loss of a cousin yet the father’s loss is more profound and contributive to his grieving process.
The client has not had any past issues on mental or IQ challenges. He was one of the best students during his school years, has been the best behaved person and one with a good character in society, according to the family and society testimony, until the time of his father’s demise. Since then both the society and family have noticed and recorded with the police a number of misconducts done by the defendant one of which being the murder of a man for playing loud music at night. Most of these cases are relegated to the issue of the victims having been an enemy to the patient’s father. This explains it that most of these cases were intended for revenge to those who were enemies with the father.
In the mental status test, being a processed carried out with the objective of testing a person’s cognitive function; I use the most commonly used mental status test instrument known as the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE), which is also termed as the Folstein Mini Mental State Exam. Within this type of test, being the examiner, I observed the physical appearance, judgment skills, orientation, language skills, attention span and memory capacity of the client using the instrument (Koita, Riggio & Jagoda, 2010). On the side of physical appearance, the examiner was involving the reviewing of the client’s age, clothing, height/weight, gender, grooming, and overall level of comfort. Concerning the judgment skills, the examiner tested his capability to solve a certain problem or situation. Through given asked questions.
Regarding orientation, as the examiner I was concerned about knowing the client’s occupation, place of residence names, and others. In regard to language skills, as the examiner I asked the client under testing to read and write some writings for assessment to determine his mental condition. In regard to attention span, as the examiner I evaluated my client’s capability to complete thoughts and the manner in which he was easily distracted or destructed (Koita, Riggio & Jagoda, 2010). Finally, my memory testing instrument and equipment entailed asking my client about recent events and people within their life or within the world. I also inquire about an individual’s childhood, schooling or events, which occurred earlier within life. The MMSE is usually scored from the range of 0 to 30 with the lowest indicating problems with the mind ability of the client and the highest indicated his or her wellness of mind.
One the other hand, for the IQ or Intelligence Quotient, there is diverse functioning tests. The one that is commonly used in measuring the intelligence, as well as, the cognitive capability of adults together with older adolescents but not children is the WAIS (Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale). The premier WAIS was invented by David Wechsler in February 1955, as the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale revised edition. As at present, it is in the fourth edition, the WAIS-IV, which was published by Pearson in 2008. The WAIS-IV is made up of ten core subsets together with five supplemental subtests, whereby the ten core subsets comprise of the Full Scale IQ (Flynn, 2009).
The Wechsler’s scale is based on the inventor’s definition of intelligence, whereby he considered intelligence to be the global capacity of an individual to not only act purposefully, but also think in a rational way and deal in a considerably effective manner with his environment. Wechsler held the believe that intelligence comprises of certain elements, which can be isolated, described and then measured. Nevertheless, the said individual elements cannot be said to be completely independent, as they are all interrelated. In other words, his argument was that intelligence is generally made up diverse specific, as well as, interrelated elements or functions, which can be measured individually.
Unlike the previous versions, the novel WAIS-IV does not have the verbal/performance subscales. In place of the verbal/performance subscales, it has the index scores. The index scores represent main intelligence component. The index scores include the VCI (Verbal Comprehension Index), PSI (Processing Speed Index), WMI (Working Memory Index), and the PRI (Perceptual Reasoning Index). In addition, the GAI (General Ability Index) has been included, which comprises of the Similarities, Vocabulary together with Information subsets which originate from Verbal Comprehension Index.
It also features the Visual Puzzles, Block Design and Matrix Reasoning from Perceptual Reasoning Index. Basically, the GAI is considered as useful within the clinical perspective as it can be utilized as the measure of the cognitive abilities, which are less susceptible to impairments of not only processing but also working memory. The WAIS-IV is mainly subjected to individuals within the age bracket of sixteen to ninety years. For the person who fall under sixteen years, the models that are applied are the WPPSI as well as, the WISC, for children and early teenage.
For a while now, it has been deciphered that children’s neurological immaturity and their developmental status, do not have the similar cognitive aptitudes as those of adults. The dissimilarities between juvenile and adult cognition are more marked in younger defendants. Yet resent forensic and developmental studies have strappingly suggested that significant cognitive differences continue into late teenage years. From the read the standards used for adult and juvenile competence include a sound mind during the time of committing the crime and the ability to reason or cognitive ability. In this forensic assessment I used the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale to assess the intelligence, as well as, the cognitive capability of the client.
Conclusion and Recommendations
According to the results and findings of the forensic study or assessment, I can conclude that the defendant was in the state of competence to stand in trial. He was suffering from mental hallucinations upon the date of committing the crime, a problem that he has been experiencing since the demise of his beloved father. According to the Mini-mental State Examination and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale of assessing adults wellness of mind and Intelligence Quotient, the offender was and still is suffering from the art of being controlled by the so called spirit of his dead father which is seen as a reality to him though he is in the period known as grieving period where he is still mourning the loss of his father. This analysis concludes that the murderer was under influence of a voice interpreted through his grieving process to be his father instructing him to act in reality.
This process of forensic analysis is a just and worth embracing process of justice for it gives equal and fare chance to all persons or defendants to clearly express and explain themselves out effectively in a sober mind and condition. This takes the place of limitations know to some defendants hence ensuring proper justice is served or administered. As opposed to where a defendants stands alone, this form or process of criminal justice tends to reveal the truth more clearly given the many levels of evaluations the defendant passes through. Individual representation tends to hide the truth but representation unravel the truth clearly before the concerned in representing the defendants for this is necessary for effective outcomes. Though the competence to stand trial may be quit tasking and sometimes gives more room for infringement and manipulation of the defendant hence leading to unjust verdicts.
My recommendation stands at, medical assistance to my clients will be necessary to help him overcome his grieving process hence be restored to proper thinking process and maintain a healthy state of mind. Failure to which his current condition may also be hazardous to both the inmates and prison wardens if not put in isolation or help to seek medical assistance. The court could also consider revisiting its rule given the circumstances surrounding the offender and for the reason that competency to stand trial is the concept of jurisprudence where a case id is to be postponed for the reason or purpose that the defendant is not able or is considered not able to participate in their defense because of their physical or mental challenges or retardation. And such is the experience of Mr. H.
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