John E. Dupont Case Study

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In the case of Commonwealth v. John E. DuPont (1996), the defendant John DuPont was convicted in February 1997 of guilty, but mentally ill, with a verdict of third-degree murder. DuPont and his defense team had tried repeatedly to persuade the jury that he was legally insane. The definition of legally insane includes that the defendant did not know the nature of the act he or she committed or did not know it to be wrong. After weeks of testimony the jury determined that DuPont was mentally ill, but was legally sane. Meaning the jury felt that beyond a reasonable doubt the DuPont was guilty of murder, although mentally ill, at the commission of the crime. The erratic behavior, delusions, and other eccentricities of DuPont pointed to symptoms…show more content…
However, prior to John DuPont’s murder trial people closest to DuPont stated that he had begun displaying signs of persecutory delusion, erratic and sometimes violent behavior that worsened after the death of his mother in 1988. DuPont was known to be eccentric with various interests including amassing a large gun collection, stamp collection, shell collection, and being a wrestling enthusiast. By the time of the murder he believed he was the Dalai Lama, Jesus, a Russian czar, and a CIA operative. In addition, his paranoia over the years resulted in Du Pont believing he was being spied on and even hired an excavation company to search for tunnels under his property. Furthermore, he installed razor wire in the walls to prevent the possibility of people hiding in his walls and went as far as believing there was eavesdropping devices in the billiard walls (John E. DuPont Trial: 1997-Trial, n.d.).
Based on pretrial testimony, the court ordered on February 9, 1996 that John Du Pont undergo a competency examination and was later deemed mentally incompetent on March 18, 1996 for to stand trial in September 1996. Du Pont was remanded to Norristown State Hospital for treatment of paranoid schizophrenia. At his second competency hearing in December 1996 DuPont was determined to be competent to proceed in trial after being treated
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This is especially a concern in the case of murder and determining whether the defendant was legally insane or guilty, but mentally ill. These two scenarios can have very different outcomes whether the defendant will serve their time in prison or in a mental institution, but also on the length of the sentence. In the case of John DuPont, the jury had to determine whether DuPont was sane or legally insane at the time of the crime, but also whether he was mentally ill. After DuPont was later determined competent to stand trial (after months of treatment with antipsychotic medication), the jury was inundated with testimony that was able to establish patterns of DuPont’s behavior that did not necessarily prove he was insane, but could establish he was mentally ill. I concur with the opinions of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania that the triers of fact were correct in their verdict and the sentencing of DuPont was
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