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Mustard guilty, insanity question set aside

Kitsap County Judge Leila Mills threw out 19-year-old Daniel J. Mustard’s insanity defense on Friday, and the jury found him guilty on three counts Tuesday — second-degree murder, first-degree robbery and first-degree felony murder.

He was accused of stabbing 87-year-old Ruby Andrews to death in April 2009 in the course of a robbery.

Defense attorneys spent most of the seven-week trial mounting an insanity defense, claiming that drugs threw Mustard’s judgment and moral compass out of alignment at the time of the murder.

And they could have helped define “insanity” for future juries if the judge had left the defense on the table, said Mustard’s Lawyer, Bryan Hershman, on the record.

But eliminated the insanity plea late last week, leaving the jury to deliberate about Mustard’s level of guilt for the murder and robbery.

Mills ruled that while Mustard may have lacked a “moral appreciation” of the consequences of his actions, that doesn’t mean the state’s legal threshold for insanity had been met.

In Washington, a defendant must lack the ability to understand the “nature and quality” of the act to be judged insane.

Defense attorneys say the decision leaves open the door for an appeal based on the state’s imprecise definition of insanity, but prosecutors say the ruling was consistent with the law.

Kevin Kelley, from the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, argued that Mustard intended to rob and burglarize his 87-year-old neighbor, Ruby Andrews.

Then when the robbery went awry, he killed her.

Jurors also turned in other allegations in line with the prosecution, saying that Mustard was armed with a deadly weapon and he chose a vulnerable victim.

Mills is scheduled to pronounce sentence on Feb. 11, and because the jury could not determine whether the murder was premeditated, it’s possible Mustard could receive something less than the life without parole sentence that normally accompanies a first-degree murder conviction.

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