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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: February 15, 2007

Senator Kenneth Corn
Senator Kenneth Corn

Senate Committee Approves Amendment to Limit Appellate Court Action in Insanity Cases

The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary on Wednesday amended a measure to limit the authority of appellate courts to modify judgment or sentencing in cases where the defense of insanity is raised.

Under the amendment to Senate Bill 905, in cases dealing with the insanity defense, the appellate court would only have the authority to order a new trial or order resentencing without recommendations.

Sen. Kenneth Corn, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, authored the amendment in response to a recent case in his district. Daniel Hawke Fears was found guilty in a 2002 shooting spree in Sallisaw that left two dead and eight wounded. In 2006, the Court of Criminal Appeals overturned his conviction on the basis of insanity and he has since been reassigned to the Oklahoma Forensic Center in Vinita.

“The amendment keeps the Court of Criminal Appeals from acting as a jury,” said Corn, D-Poteau. “In cases such as this, the court should not have the authority to overturn the ruling made by a jury of his peers.”

Corn said the amendment does not excessively limit the authority of the court, but instead ensures fair sentencing in cases where an offender has been convicted.

“This only applies to cases where the defendant was not acquitted on the basis of the insanity defense,” Corn said. “This applies to cases such as the Fears shooting, where we know with certainty that the defendant has committed the crime and has been convicted. In cases like this, the appellate court should not have the right to sit in place of the jury.”

The amended Senate Bill 905 was approved in committee and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

For more information contact:
Senate Corn's Office - (405) 521-5576

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