- Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2015

ATLANTA (AP) - A man who admitted trying to kidnap two young boys and entice them for indecent purposes had his guilty pleas and 40-year prison sentence thrown out Monday after Georgia’s highest court ruled his mental disorder rendered him unable to make an informed decision.

In a unanimous opinion published Monday, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that Andrew Magnuson’s guilty pleas were not valid.

The state could choose to prosecute him again.

Magnuson was accused of picking up two boys in a golf cart 15 years ago in Fayette County when he was 22. Court records show he talked to them about sex and sex toys. He got their names and addresses, saying he wanted them to spend the night at his house to play with his children.

Magnuson later told police he wanted to take the boys to his home so his father could molest them, though there’s no evidence his father had ever been accused of molesting children.

Magnuson was indicted in 2000 on charges of enticing a child for indecent purposes, possession of child pornography and attempted kidnapping.

During a plea hearing, he was asked if he’d ever been a patient in a mental health facility or if he’d ever been under the care of a psychiatrist. He answered incorrectly that he hadn’t.

Evidence showed that Magnuson had suffered since childhood from mental disorders that required psychiatric care, medications and group therapy. He was hospitalized several times. A mental health therapist, who treated Magnuson testified that he had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, was functioning at a low level of maturity and needed help with daily living skills.

Court records also show that his attorney told the judge Magnuson had been declared competent to stand trial despite having been institutionalized and had been treated for mental health issues.

The judge accepted his guilty plea and sentenced Magnuson to 40 years in prison followed by 25 years on probation.

The judge noted that there was no facility available to treat Magnuson’s problems, and he had to weigh Magnuson’s freedom against the protection of children, according to court filings.

Magnuson challenged the constitutionality of his conviction in 2008, saying his mental disorders made him unable to enter valid guilty pleas. The petition said his original attorney had provided ineffective counsel. A judge found in his favor

The high court opinion says that there is evidence that Magnuson’s mental health issues kept him from understanding the consequences of his plea and upheld the lower court’s ruling.

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