Insanity murder trials costing SLO County thousands

April 15, 2013

moneyA recent string of insanity pleas in murder cases has cost San Luis Obispo County thousands of dollars. [Tribune]

Until early 2012, no murder defendant in San Luis Obispo County had used the insanity plea in more than 15 years. In a little more than a year since, four insanity murder trials have occurred in the county, costing the court system as much as $70,000 in psychiatric witness fees alone.

In the most recent insanity murder trial, the Public Defender’s Office spent $51,128 on psychiatric witness testimony to defend Christopher Shumey, who shot his mother, Karen Shumey, to death in 2011. The District Attorney’s Office spent $17,200 on psychiatric witness fees during the trial.

The Andrew Downs trial, which concluded in February 2012, cost the court system a total of $61,025 in psychiatric witness fees alone. Downs was the only defendant in the recent string of insanity plea murder trials to escape conviction.

One expert witness, who testified in all four of the recent insanity murder trials, billed the county a combined total of more than $85,000 for his testimony. Kris Mohandie billed the county $17,200 for the Shumey case, $19,749 for the insanity murder trial of Kenneth Cockrell and $31,200 for the insanity trial of John Woody.

Mohandie, who charges $450 an hour, planned to testify for the prosecution in the Downs case, but concluded that Downs was insane and testified for the defense instead. Still, Mohandie charged the District Attorney’s Office $19,100 for his work on the Downs case.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerret Gran told the Tribune that Mohandie is worth his price.

“If I’m sitting on a jury and somebody’s talking about something that I don’t know about, and I want to accept him as a witness, I want to see a great education, but I also want to see experience,” Gran said.

San Luis Obispo Superior Court has a $17.8 million budget. The Dystiny Myers murder case, which included five defendants, just cost the court more than $1 million.

In a February letter to Vice President Joe Biden opposing new gun control measures, Sheriff Ian Parkinson noted how the recent string of mental illness related murders in the county is costing taxpayers.

“Many of the homicides in my county, over the past few years, have been related to mental illness,” Parkinson wrote. “I believe that it is very clear that we must address and put more attention to the mentally ill and the mental health systems in this country.”

 


Loading...

8 Comments

  1. Cindy says:

    “Mohandie, who charges $450 an hour”

    CRIPE, the psyche experts in the high profile Jodi Arias trial only charge $250.00 an hour and $300.00 to testify. Why is it that we are paying $450. an hour here in SLO? Oh that’s right, it’s SLO. Small town, lot’s of cronies.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. r0y says:

    Wow, that pays even better than working on the Los Osos Sewer! Sweet deal! Spread that sugar, I’m sure there’s more coming from the unending supply!

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  3. BitchMoanComplain says:

    I guess $450 per hour is not negotiable when taxpayer money is involved.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  4. abigchocoholic says:

    In a little more than a year since, four insanity murder trials have occurred in the county, costing the court system as much as $70,000 in psychiatric witness fees alone. In the most recent insanity murder trial, the Public Defender’s Office spent $51,128 on psychiatric witness testimony to defend Christopher Shumey, who shot his mother, Karen Shumey, to death in 2011.
    —————————–
    And? This is life and death stuff. Compare that to Stew Jenkins motion for the homeless which cost $133,000.

    What do you want them to do convict or not convict people of murder or being insane by flipping a coin?

    (-1) 3 Total Votes - 1 up - 2 down
    • Cindy says:

      The difference is that when it comes to the insanity defense, the DA works hard to follow the law and ensure that no citizens rights are violated. When it comes to defending the foisted CAPSLO program, they worked very hard to violate the citizens rights, so yeah, it cost us a lot more for the DA’s office to jack people around rather than to do the right thing in the first place.

      (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  5. SLOTECH90 says:

    I;d rather spend$450. an hour on a competent psychiatrist who has spent 12 years post B.A. degree
    getting an education than millions a game for some BOZO whose only talent is throwing a ball in a hoop.

    (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
  6. Niles Q says:

    Jesus,$450 an hour? At those prices, who’s the real criminal here?

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
    • Spirit Filled says:

      Hell, I could make your antique coffee table look like new again for that amount of money. And in a little less than an hour. My way………not out of a can.

      Blessings

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down

Comments are closed.