Domestic disputes often end in tragedy, with one or both parties dead or seriously injured. A recent case in Lackawanna County involves a tragic death without the usual preamble of domestic violence.
A resident of Taylor was arrested and charged with criminal homicide in the death of his wife. According to police, the defendant called the Lackawanna Communications Center and asked police to come to his home because he had killed his wife. Upon arrival, the police allegedly found the woman lying on the dining room floor with blood on her face, head and chest. Police reported that they found signs of a "violent struggle" in the dining room, including broken furniture and glass. The original charge of assault was changed to homicide after an autopsy determined that the woman's death was caused by multiple traumatic injuries to her head, torso and chest.
At a press conference, the police chief said that police records showed no prior calls at the couple's home for domestic violence but that there had been calls for what were described as "mental health issues" regarding the defendant. The defendant was described by police as having said "I killed her" but also mumbling to himself as police questioned him.
This case presents a difficult question regarding the mental health of the defendant. The defendant will undoubtedly be subject to one or more psychological examinations to determine whether his mental faculties were intact at the time of the incident. If they were not, the murder charges may be dropped and the defendant evaluated for institutionalization. The presentation of the so-called "insanity defense" requires both legal and medical expertise to ensure that the evidence complies with state law on the subject. At this point, the viability of this strategy cannot be evaluated.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, "Husband charged in Taylor slaying," David Singleton, Dec. 9, 2016