Closing arguments were scheduled for Thursday afternoon in the trial of 51-year-old Kimberly McLaughlin. McLaughlin is accused of murdering her mother, Shirley Robuck, in Robuck’s home on September 13, 2009. Robuck’s body was found burnt and decapitated in her Madison home. Authorities counted over 200 stab wounds.
McLaughlin was taken to Bryce Hospital for evaluation following her arrest. Dr. Mark Schmidt testified that McLaughlin was suffering from a severe mental illness at the time of the murder, a particularly dangerous form of bipolar disorder associated with psychotic behavior. Dr. Schmidt cited McLaughlin’s belief that Robuck was a witch or demon capable of possessing McLaughlin’s body. When McLaughlin arrived at the hospital, she claimed that Robuck’s head continued to breathe.
Prosecutors challenged the claim that McLaughlin had been mentally ill at the time, citing her history of cocaine abuse and anger management problems.
The full report from The Huntsville Times can be found here.
Statistically, defense strategies based on the defendant’s mental health are not successful; more often than not, juries simply do not buy it. However, the circumstances of McLaughlin’s case appear to be extraordinary, to say the least; while homicide trials can be procedurally complex and emotionally charged, such cases as this one seem to be especially so.
Moreover, no matter how complex a defendant’s case may be, the law accords him or her important rights that must be protected. If you or a loved one are accused of homicide, a skilled, experienced attorney can help you secure your rights.