Oklahoma City, OK 73105
For Immediate Release:
February 15, 2007
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.
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