Ohio judge to decide on insanity defense in child slayings

Mar 12, 2023, 11:00 AM

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio judge is scheduled to decide this week on the validity of the insanity defense submitted by a man charged with fatally shooting two of his girlfriend’s three young sons and wounding the third.

Judge Eric Allen Marks last week heard assessments from two psychologists of the state of mind of 29-year-old Kevin Moore at the time of the February 2021 shootings in Toledo, The (Toledo) Blade reported.

Marks then recessed the nonjury trial until Thursday afternoon and must now decide whether Moore knew the wrongfulness of his actions when he shot the victims, killing 14-month-old Gabriel Phillips and 5-year-old Ahmir Phillips and wounding a 4-year-old boy.

Moore is charged with two counts of aggravated murder and single counts of attempted aggravated murder and felonious assault. A second felonious assault count was dismissed at the end of testimony last week.

One psychologist testified Thursday that decades ago he would have supported an insanity defense because Ohio law at the time required only proof of mental illness. Since then, he said, the standard has “become very, very strict” in requiring substantial evidence of inability to tell right from wrong.

He and another psychologist concluded that despite the defendant’s severe schizophrenic mental illness and gross overreaction to events in the home, he later demonstrated an understanding of having been in the wrong.

Defense attorney John Thebes, however, cited a third psychiatrist’s conclusion that Moore did qualify for an insanity defense under current law. He said the defendant’s rambling remarks and many of his actions were consistent with a schizophrenia patient not taking appropriate medication.

Prosecution witnesses, however, cited testimony from the children’s mother that Moore’s behavior appeared normal both before and after the crimes, and they said mental illness should have been evident beforehand if he was profoundly disturbed at the time.

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Ohio judge to decide on insanity defense in child slayings