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03/25/76 PEOPLE v. STOCKWELL

March 25, 1976

PEOPLE
v.
STOCKWELL



Appeal from Oakland, Robert L. Templin, J.

Leave to appeal denied, 397 Mich 827.

Danhof, P. J., and V. J. Brennan and M. J. Kelly, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. -- Mental Health -- Civil Commitment -- Presumption of Insanity -- Criminal Acts -- Jury.

A civil commitment for insanity does not give rise to a presumption of insanity for purposes of obviating criminal responsibility for anti-social acts perpetrated during the commitment; the question of insanity, once raised in a criminal trial, is to be determined by the trier of fact.

2. -- Instructions to Jury -- Insanity -- Burden of Proof -- Reasonable Doubt -- Prosecutors.

The proper instruction to the jury when an insanity defense is raised is that it is the prosecutor, not the defendant, who bears the burden of proving his position on the sanity question beyond a reasonable doubt.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Per Curiam

Edward Stockwell was convicted, on retrial, of second-degree murder. Defendant appeals.

The defendant, Edward Stockwell, was convicted by an Oakland County jury of second-degree murder, MCLA 750.317; MSA 28.549, and appeals as of right.

The defendant was previously convicted on the same charge and appealed to this Court which reversed his conviction, People v Stockwell, 52 Mich App 394; 217 NW2d 413 (1974), because of instructional errors. The second trial has now produced a second conviction and the defendant once again appeals on the basis of an alleged instructional error.

The defendant has a history of mental illness dating back to his early childhood. After two violent incidents, he was formally adjudicated mentally ill in probate court on the petition of his parents and was committed to the Pontiac State Hospital in 1957 at the age of 15. While still institutionalized, the defendant fatally stabbed a female patient on May 31, 1968.

At both of his trials, the defendant admitted the stabbing but argued that he was insane at the time of the offense and, therefore, not criminally responsible. At his second trial, the defendant submitted a written request for jury instructions which included statements that a defendant who had previously been involuntarily committed to a mental institution was entitled to a "presumption of continuing insanity". The trial Judge rejected the proposed instruction and instead told the jury that:

"here is a presumption that the defendant was sane, but as soon as evidence is offered by the defendant to overthrow this presumption, the burden shifts and it then rests upon the People to convince you jurors ...


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