10 Forensic Psychologist Observations
The Arizona shooting occurred on January 8, 2011 when six people were murdered and thirteen people wounded during a rampage by Jared Loughner in Tucson. The suspected target of his attack was Gabrielle Giffords, a United States Congresswoman. Although he shot her in the head, she thankfully clings to life helped by medical experts. In addition to his violent attack of the congresswoman, he also shot and killed a nine-year-old child, a congressional aide and a chief judge for the United States 9th District Court. Mr. Loughner is now incarcerated awaiting trial for the brutal murders. Following this case closely, a forensic psychologist offers the reader 10 observations he identifies as having bearing on the course of the trial.
1. Jared Loughner’s defense team will most certainly attempt to establish he suffers from a psychiatric illness or a series of mental illnesses illustrating he should not be held responsible for his brutal rampage. The insanity defense will be presented with the goal of creating doubt in the minds of the jury. In order for Mr. Loughner’s attorneys to succeed, they must persuade members of the jury to experience doubt about his guilt.
2. In roughly 25% of rampage killer cases, a relationship issue such as a divorce or breakup is the precipitating event. Approximately 45% of rampage killers are triggered by unexpected employment losses. To date, there has been no evidence suggesting Mr. Loughner was triggered by a serious environmental stressor.
3. Based on reports from peers, classmates, teachers, and historical data suggests Jared Loughner suffers from a serious thought disorder. Examples given about his bizarre behaviors prior to the massacre could be indicative he suffers from a delusional disorder or a form of schizophrenia. If his defense team can establish a serious psychiatric illness supported by their forensic experts, a not guilty by reason of insanity will become the defense team’s primary position.
4. Over 50% of rampage killers have a history of mental illness. News reports have verified Mr. Loughner was expelled from a local community college due to his bizarre behaviors and could only return after being evaluated by a mental health professional. Mr. Loughner never returned to the community college and fellow students have expressed to media Mr. Loughner’s hostile outbursts.
5. Judy Clarke is the attorney assigned to represent Mr. Loughner and appointed by the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Phoenix, Ariz., to represent him. She is a brilliant defense attorney and previously represented Zacarias Moussaoui (notorious 9/11 conspirator), Ted Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Eric Rudolph (Olympic Park Bomber), and Susan Smith (drowned her two toddlers in 1994). Ms. Clarke is considered one of the best defense attorneys for cases that gain national attention.
6. A strategic tactic used by defense attorneys is to “age the case.” This means Jared Loughner’s defense team will attempt to stretch his trial out over a long period of time. The reasons why attorneys attempt to stall their client’s trials are to put time and distance between the crime and the trial. The longer Ms. Clarke and her defense team can elongate Mr. Loughner’s trial, the higher likelihood the rest of the country will move on to other concerns and public sentiment eventually wanes.
7. During an interview days after the massacre, Alex Kotonias, a college classmate of Jared Loughner reported he witnessed Mr. Loughner laughing to himself, having outbursts in class, that few fellow students spoke to him, and recalled Mr. Loughner asking the professor if he believed in mind control. If these observations can be verified by the classmate, other students in the class, and the professor, the defense team will attempt to use this evidence as support for Mr. Loughner suffering from a severe psychiatric illness.
8. Prosecution will present a comprehensive strategy to prove Jared Loughner may have been bizarre, but is undeniably guilty for the Arizona shooting. Prosecution will present a copious amount of evidence illustrating Mr. Loughner planned the attack and his entire plan was premeditated. If they can prove premeditation, Mr. Loughner could not have been severely debilitated and possessed full control of his thoughts and actions.
9. The Arizona shooting occurred on January 8, 2011 and information about Mr. Loughner is only starting to be reported. Over the coming months leading up to the trial, there will be a vast amount of information yet to be discovered or released to the public. Information about Mr. Loughner’s childhood, family dynamics, arrest history, and scores of other observations by people familiar to him will be divulged either confirming his devious nature or shedding light on a seriously ill young man.
10. Although Mr. Loughner appears proud of his new found fame evidenced by his smug appearing headshot recently posted for the world to see, it is highly likely his defense team will insist he discloses as little as possible leading up to and threw the trial proceedings. If Jared Loughner is not severely debilitated and fully functional, it will be very difficult for him to squelch his narcissistic impulses to involve the media to interview him.
Jared Lee Loughner brutally murdered and wounded innocent citizens at a local event hosted by congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in a suburban town of Arizona. His heinous actions devastated America and spread to international countries. With each passing week, more background information will be released to illustrate how deranged Mr. Loughner lived his life. The question of his mental state leading up to and during the commission of his actions will be the focus of his trial. Mr. Loughner now has assigned to him one of the best public defenders representing his case.
Ms. Clarke and her team of attorneys and forensic experts will attempt to show he suffers significant psychiatric illness suggesting he was not responsible for his horrible actions. In addition to their strategy of proving he is not guilty by reason of insanity, Jared Loughner’s defense team will assuredly shoot for a sentence of life without parole staunchly opposing the death penalty. The 10 observations noted are factors that will arouse a continuum of emotions from Americans following the case.
By Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.
iPredator Inc. is a New York State based Information Age Forensics company founded in September 2011 to provide educational and advisory products & services to consumers and organizations on cyberbullying, cyber harassment, cyberstalking, cybercrime, internet defamation, cyber terrorism, online sexual predation and the new field the founder is pioneering he calls Information Age Psychology. Created by a NYS licensed psychologist and certified forensic consultant, Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D, their goal is to reduce victimization, theft and disparagement from online assailants.
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Dark Psychology: The study of the human condition as it relates to the psychological nature of people to prey upon others. All of humanity has this potential to victimize other humans & living creatures. While many restrain or sublimate this tendency, some act upon these impulses. Dark Psychology seeks to understand those thoughts, feelings and perceptions that lead to human predatory behavior. Dark Psychology assumes that this production is purposive and has some rational, goal-oriented motivation 99% of the time. The remaining 1%, under Dark Psychology, is the brutal victimization of others without purposive intent or reasonably defined by evolution, science or religious dogma.
- Michael Nuccitelli Psy.D.
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by Michael Nuccitelli, Psy.D.