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Suspect held in baseball bat killing

A 49-year-old man from Battle Creek, Michigan, was charged with felony murder, home invasion and assault with a dangerous weapon last week. The man is accused of beating his mother-in-law to death with a baseball bat. The woman and her husband were at their daughter's home installing new locks when the alleged assault occurred.

According to authorities, the suspect hit the victim several times with a baseball bat. Paramedics airlifted the victim to a hospital in Kalamazoo, but she died en route as a result of injuries sustained in the attack. The victim's husband was also injured as he struggled with the alleged assailant. The father-in-law's injuries are reportedly minor.

Authorities say the man accused of the violent assault is being held without bond. If convicted of the crimes, he could spend the rest of his natural life behind bars.

According to the accused man's estranged wife, he has a history of drug abuse and mental illness. In a statement to Battle Creek police, the woman described her husband as suffering from bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Although the suspect is accused of a very serious crime, there are very serious concerns about his mental health. If the suspect's wife is correct, this man may be suffering from a debilitating variety of mental illnesses, which could have an impact in court.

Michigan courts have a substantial capacity test for determining whether a defendant is insane. This test could play an important role at trial. Under the substantial capacity test, a defendant is considered legally insane if that person lacks the capacity to appreciate the nature or wrongfulness of his conduct. Alternatively, a defendant is considered to be insane if he lacks the capacity to conform his conduct to legal requirements.

Establishing that a criminal defendant is insane is often quite difficult in Michigan courts. But when insanity is established, a defendant is not held criminally responsible for his actions.

Sources: The Battle Creek Enquirer, "Son-in-law charged in baseball bat killing," Trace Christenson, Nov. 10, 2011

1 Gillespie Michigan Criminal Law and Procedure § 2:2

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