March 23, 2020 / 2:25 PM / 6 days ago

U.S. Supreme Court lets states bar insanity defense

March 23 - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday limited the rights of criminal defendants, declaring that states can bar them from using the so-called insanity defense in a ruling involving a Kansas man sentenced to death for killing four members of his family.

The justices ruled 6-3 that a 1995 Kansas law eliminating the insanity defense - which bars holding criminally responsible mentally impaired defendants who do not know right from wrong - did not violate the U.S. Constitution. The justices affirmed a 2018 decision by the Kansas Supreme Court upholding the conviction of the man convicted in the case, James Kraig Kahler.

Kahler used a high-powered rifle in 2009 to shoot his wife and two teenage daughters at the home of his wife’s grandmother, who he also killed. He spared his son, who was 9 years old at the time. Kahler carried out the killings the weekend after the Thanksgiving holiday and months after his wife filed for divorce and he had been fired from his job. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

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