Supreme Court rules against death row inmate’s insanity defense

The U.S. Supreme Court rules against a Kansas death row inmate who argued the state's laws are unconstitutional when it comes to insanity defenses. The 6-3 decision could have implications for criminal cases nationwide.

By

State News

March 25, 2020 - 10:14 AM

James Kraig Kahler Photo by Kansas News Service

In a ruling that could have implications for criminal cases nationwide, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled against a Kansas death row inmate who argued that the state’s laws regarding the insanity defense are unconstitutional.

Kansas and three other states — Utah, Montana and Idaho — have banished the insanity defense as a formal mechanism. Alaska also has severe restrictions on its use.

The facts underlying the case date to 2009, when James Kraig Kahler murdered his estranged wife, their two teenage daughters and his wife’s grandmother in Burlingame, about 30 miles south of Topeka.

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