Stephen Morgan Found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

Stephen Morgan, who was tried this month by a three-judge panel for the 2009 shooting of Johanna Justin-Jinich ’10, has been declared not guilty by reason of insanity, reports the Middletown Press:

A three-judge panel has found Stephen Morgan not guilty of murder in the 2009 fatal shooting of Wesleyan University student Johanna Justin-Jinich, saying he was insane at the time. [ . . . ] A three-judge panel announced the verdict Friday in Middlesex Superior Court after deliberating a little less than two hours. Closing arguments were wrapped up around 11 a.m. Friday morning, and the verdict came in around 12:40 p.m.

In addition to the murder charge, Morgan was also declared not guilty of intimidation based on bigotry or bias and carrying a pistol without a permit. Perhaps most disturbing, however, is the possibility that Morgan is declared sane in two months and released back into society after a two-month stay at the Whiting Forensic Institute right in Middletown:

Morgan will now be sent to Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown for 60 days, after which he will be evaluated. A new court date has been set for Feb. 29 to hear the mental evaluation. If Morgan is deemed sane at that time, he will be released back into society.

An earlier Middletown Press article discusses this possibility, which would be an awful and disturbing blow to Johanna’s family, friends, and anyone who was on campus or affected in the 2009 shooting.

According to Morgan’s defense attorney Richard Brown: “My client did not get off. My client is going to get remanded to a mental health facility to get the help he needs.” According to the forensic psychologist who evaluated Morgan, he is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, including “delusional thoughts that include prison guards reading his mind, video of his thoughts being shown to his family, and fellow inmates monitoring him from strategic locations.”

Johanna’s family wasn’t at the courtroom when the verdict was read, but here’s the statement her father sent beforehand:

“My family and I have been in Connecticut these past three weeks,” read the statement from the victim’s father, Daniel Jinich. “During this difficult time, we were moved by the outpourings of kindness and gentleness expressed by many people in Middletown who we did not know but who in their own way reached out to us to express sympathy and compassion.”

COVERAGE:

19 thoughts on “Stephen Morgan Found Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity

  1. Pingback: Insanity: The Real Definition | Forensics

  2. Former Student

    This is not a thought-out response, but is rather a gut reaction (whatever!): last night when I read these articles, all I could think was: of course it’s insane. It’s f*ing crazy. Stalking is crazy. Harassment, it’s crazy. Killing is crazy. And yet thousands upon thousands of women, thousands of PEOPLE, of all genders, are stalked, harassed and killed each year. We can anesthetize this, take it into a court of law to rationalize and break down the crime, but holistically: it’s all bloody insane. And I don’t give a damn if we live in a system that actively creates killers/misogynists/stalkers/antisemites whatever– for us to not treat all of these types of crimes against people as if they are insane is to miss the picture. This f*er is lucky to get the mental help that he needs, but for him to be let off when he’s “better” is to perpetuate something that is just as crazy as he is. Whether you’re psychiactrically “crazy” or not, crimes like this are insane, and people deserve to do their full time for it, whether they somehow “get sane” or not.

    1. anon

      i think the problem is that whiting is the only maximum security mental facility in CT, so there’s no where else in CT to bring him.. maybe they’ll transfer him to an out of state facility?

  3. 2012

    the shooting marked a real change in my life, the start of a general period of darkness, depression and fear. I just cannot believe this. it’s like it’s happening again.

  4. 2014

    My heart is breaking, The thought of this man spending his sentence at CVH, SO close to campus, is utterly horrifying. He took a life and wreaked havoc on countless others, even the possibility of his release in 60 days, or anything less than forever, makes me sick to my stomach. 
    JJJ’s death rocked our community and we see and feel the effects everyday. Constant Psafe presence next to The Bayit and  the sudden realization you’re standing where your fellow Wes’er spent the last seconds of your life as you pick up your books each semester are just two reminders we face. I know our penal system is far from perfect, but I can’t handle him being so close.

  5. Student

    Connecticut Valley Hospital contains three main sub-sections: General Psychiatric, Addiction Services, and Whiting Forensic. The first of those two sub-sections involve a client voluntarily committing themselves. The individual who left CVH in October unauthorized was enrolled in Addiction services, which is not maximum security, and he left “unauthorized” because he had not yet completed his treatment program, which I assume was assigned to him in a court of law as an alternative to going to jail. Even so, Addiction services is not an area where people are committed because they have committed a violent crime, and people often check themselves in to addiction services voluntarily.Patients committed to Whiting Forensic division are not there voluntarily; they have been committed by the law. Whiting Forensic division is extremely high security. The chances of any patient leaving Whiting unauthorized is extremely low. Security in the forensic division is similar to that in a prison, although obviously patients have access to medical care that they truly need.In my opinion, it seems extremely unlikely that Morgan will get out in 60 days. I agree with the post below mine: especially in such a high profile case, it seems likely that Morgan will remain in Whiting Forensic division for an extended period of time.

  6. '08 er

    This is terrible and horrific.  Insulting.

    The thing is, if you are so insane that you can plot murder for months or even years (and yet so sane that you can manage not to get caught for days), then there should never be a time when you can be evaluated as ‘sane’. The scary thing about this crime is not that it was out of character or a sudden break in personality. The scary thing is that this guy was threatening and malicious for a long, long time. It is disgusting to even open up the possibility that if this guy can keep his shit together for 60 days, that means he is no longer a threat to society.

    I am not a big fan of the penal system, and I think that Insanity pleas are worthwhile in some circumstances. But this guy is dangerous, and there’s no evaluation that will convince me otherwise. He will always be dangerous. It is not safe to release him. We already know what he is capable of, and if his writing is to be believed (and it should be), his thoughts/delusions were not limited to just JJJ.

    What can we do?

    1. Guest

      One cannot do anything. Messenger and Ruggles will get out and walk the streets of Middletown. I do not care if someone who is insane gets out in 10 days, 10 years or 20 years. They unlike those committed to life in prison do one day get out and find homes in Middletown. It is happening and it has happened in the past and nothing we can do. 

  7. Friedrich Nietzsche

    Insanity in individuals is something rare – but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.

  8. 2013

    If Morgan is released, it will be an affront to the Wesleyan and Jewish communities, which he did not speak of so fondly.  The insanity defense is used time and time again, and now it’s getting personal.

  9. Student

    This is undoubtedly a tragic situation for everyone involved. Most of the news coverage and comments are upset by his possible release in 60 days, which obviously would be unacceptable. However, its very important to understand how Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity usually works. Most murderers found not guilty by reason of insanity serve very long periods of time in a mental hospital. In fact, on average, they serve a longer period of time than they would in prison with good behavior. Morgan will likely serve a very long time in a mental hospital and may never be released. 

    1. '08

      If it is unacceptable, then why is it an option?

      I’m not saying I disagree with you here (hopefully, he will be in there a long, long time– and, you’re right…statistically, this is likely), but assuming the justice system is in place (in part) to protect the public, even the slightest chance of release in 60 days is just irrational.

      Like, what kind of evaluation could the judges possibly have imagined happening that (a) might deem him safe for release and (b) is probable enough that it’s worth spending court-resources on a hearing in just two months?

      At best it’s wasteful, and at worst it’s terrifying,

      1. Student

        If one is found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, there needs to be a hearing to determine how to best handle treating him or her, considering the circumstances of the case. Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity is not just restricted to those charged with murder, so in some cases, I’m sure having another hearing in 60 days makes sense. Its just a procedural issue and whether the length of his treatment is determined now or in 60 days, its the same cost to the legal system. Laws can’t just be changed for specific cases. I’m sure the judges aren’t stupid and will make a reasonable decision. 

        Additionally, to address some of the other comments here, it is hard to evaluate insanity just based off of someone’s actions. Insanity is a lot more complicated than that. Obviously, this is a very emotionally charged case and we all want him to get a punishment he deserves. My general point is he is going to serve a long time at the hospital and as another commenter stated, he will be in a high security section where the main difference from prison is access to needed medical resources. 

    2. Abc

      “The average term of commitment to the
      PSRB is 42.6 years, consistent with the types of serious crimes these
      insanity acquittees have committed. But the average stay for a PSRB
      patient starting his commitment in the WMSS is 6.1 years before transfer
      to the DESS, with a lesser security level. These patients are seldom
      discharged directly from the WMSS.”

      http://www.cga.ct.gov/2000/rpt/2000-R-0704.htm

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