Thursday, September 2, 2004

Attorneys for accused
shooter face legal tangle



By Carrie Spencer
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Attorneys for the man charged in a series of central Ohio highway shootings must walk many tightropes after filing an innocent by reason of insanity plea.

Charles A. McCoy Jr.'s change from his earlier not guilty plea was filed at Franklin County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday, his 29th birthday. McCoy has paranoid schizophrenia, according to court documents and his attorneys.

Now, the three-man legal team must still try to cast doubt on the 24 charges accusing McCoy of being behind 12 of the shootings from October through February. But jurors - while instructed to presume him innocent - will know the plea means the defense is prepared to show his severe illness kept him from understanding right from wrong.

In doing so, the attorneys would paint a picture of a delusional man who felt he must shoot at random motorists before a jury who will be looking at a calm, collected and medicated defendant.

"It is the hardest defense of all the recognized defenses on the books," said Joshua Dressler, an Ohio State University law professor. "It is in general a losing plea. It is a plea of last resort."

McCoy could be sentenced to death if convicted of aggravated murder in the slaying of a 62-year-old woman in November. She was the only person hit in the more than 20 shootings at cars, a house and an elementary school that occurred mostly around the Interstate 270 beltway.

McCoy agrees with the plea change, attorney Mark Collins said.

S. Michael Miller, another of McCoy's attorneys, said the team changed the plea at the advice of two psychiatrists who examined McCoy. Judge Charles Schneider ruled Tuesday that while medicated, McCoy is competent to stand trial, set to begin Jan. 7.



ELECTION 2004
Cheney goes on offensive
Senator, wife heap praise on Bush
GOP speeches elicit strong responses
Young voters get own event
Bush enlists aid of famous Buckeyes
Protest arrests set record
Notes from New York
Remarks by Rob Portman
Remarks by Elaine Chao
Remarks by Mitch McConnell

TOP LOCAL HEADLINES
Ex-husband: Allen persisted
Attorney general to investigate claims
Smitherman: Tax stock options
Ky. 17 plan predicts growth
Airport's noise will dip, then escalate, officials say

KENTUCKY HEADLINES
Kids survive wreck, but parents killed
Question on roots gets Davis riled up
Gateway wins $1.7M U.S. education grant
Kentucky obituaries
Shopping center advances
News briefs

EDUCATION
Persistent candidate on his way to the top
Springboro teacher resigns
Fairfield police reduce traffic control staffing
United Way hires UC to help analyze community's needs

NEIGHBORS
Crash left him changed
Township 'biggie-sizes' lots
Clermont recycling expands, improves
Great Outdoor Weekend mimics 'Sampler' success
Neighbors briefs

COLUMNS
Bronson: Springboro feels snubbed by museum
Good Things Happening: Sycamore grad still seeking marrow match

LIVES REMEMBERED
Hannah H. Hagin put family foremost

NEWS FROM THE REGION
Homecoming high art for Guard and families
Soldier from local unit charged in Afghan deaths
7-year-old Iraqi patient out of Children's Hospital
Kings to honor gold-medal grad
City property tax rollback on ballot
Foundation to help soldiers
Attorneys for accused shooter face legal tangle
Worker training seems to help
Woman charged in fatal stabbing
Loveland derailment cleared
Public safety briefs