- Associated Press - Thursday, November 5, 2015

SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) - A former Oklahoma college student who was declared not guilty by reason of insanity in a classmate’s killing remains a threat to society and requires more mental health treatment, a Pottawatomie County judge ruled Thursday.

The ruling came in the case of Jerrod Murray, 21, who authorities say fatally shot 18-year-old Generro Sanchez after asking for a ride to a Walmart in exchange for gas money in December 2012. Authorities said Murray twice shot him in the head while Sanchez was driving, and again after the car crashed into a tree, then hid Sanchez’s body in a creek.

Murray allegedly told investigators he wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone.

District Judge John Canavan Jr. said reports from psychiatrists who examined Murray showed that the former East Central University student needed to remain at the Oklahoma Forensic Center. Dr. Stanley Ardoin, a staff psychiatrist at the center, said Murray “has a serious mental illness that is unlikely to be adequately controlled in the community.”

In the other report, Dr. Shawn Roberson said he asked Murray how he knew a similar incident wouldn’t happen if he were released, and Murray responded: “I don’t.”

Murray, shackled at the wrists, said nothing during the hearing.

Canavan scheduled another hearing for November 2016, for a new review of Murray’s competency. Such hearings must be held at least annually.

Sanchez’s mother, among several of his relatives who attended the hearing, said after the hearing that she was satisfied Murray “is not going to walk.” But she said she opposed the law that allowed Murray to be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

“Nobody should be able to use mental illness as an excuse to get out of serving time for their crime, especially a murder,” said West, who has the support of a local prosecutor who also wants a law change.

During the hearing, a man testified he had been in a cell block with Murray at the Pottawatomie County Jail and overheard him make threats against the victim’s family.

“He said that he would do it again,” said John Gibson, who said he was on probation after pleading guilty to falsely reporting a crime.

Murray’s attorney, Mitch Solomon, questioned Gibson at length about his credibility and asked if anyone else heard Murray make the alleged threats. Gibson said other people had, but he couldn’t remember their names.

“It’s kind of stunning to know that you have people out there that would target you,” West said after the hearing. “In a sense, it is scary. But being forewarned is also forearmed.”

District Attorney Richard Smothermon said he has drafted legislation for lawmakers to consider next year that would create a new criminal disposition of guilty but insane, similar to statutes in 12 other states. The proposal would hold defendants accountable for crimes by allowing for both mental health treatment and punishment, he said.

“Nobody has been held accountable for this crime,” Smothermon said. “He has been found not guilty to a murder he has confessed to. And that’s a significant problem.”


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