Jun 3, 2024 - News

Kingsessing suspect pursues insanity defense

Illustration of a row of gavels, with all but one of them transparent.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A man accused of killing five people in last year's Kingsessing mass shooting plans to mount an insanity defense, per records obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The rare legal strategy is being pursued after the alleged shooter's case was put on hold last year.

  • A court-appointed psychiatrist found the 40-year-old incompetent to stand trial last summer, but the case resumed in March after he underwent mental health treatment.

State of play: Defense attorneys notified prosecutors in April they may call expert psychiatric witnesses to try and show Kimbrady Carriker suffered from a mental illness that prevented him from knowing "the nature and quality of his actions were wrong," per court records.

  • Carriker is charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated assault and weapons offenses.

Flashback: Carriker is accused of killing the first victim, Joseph Wamah Jr., in a house in Kingsessing on July 2. The death went unnoticed for more than 40 hours because of a dispatch error that sent officers to the wrong address, police said.

  • Prosecutors say he later returned to the same neighborhood wearing a ski mask and bulletproof vest, using an AR-15 assault rifle to fire "aimlessly" at vehicles and people on the streets.

The fine print: The burden of proof in the case will shift from the prosecution to the defense because the latter has raised an "affirmative defense," Rutgers law professor J.C. Lore III tells Axios.

  • The defense must show by a preponderance of evidence — meaning more likely than not — that the accused's mental health impaired him from understanding what he was doing when he committed the crimes.

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