X

Stolen cruiser crash: What does not guilty by reason of insanity mean?

Raymond Walters and his attorney, Michael Pentecost, address the judge. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS
Raymond Walters and his attorney, Michael Pentecost, address the judge. STAFF/BONNIE MEIBERS

Raymond Walters, who is accused of stabbing his father and stealing a police cruiser that crashed and killed two children, appeared in court Thursday, waving to television cameras when he came out to take his seat.

Walters' attorney, Michael Pentecost, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity earlier this month.

Thaddeus Hoffmeister, professor of law at the University of Dayton, said the insanity defense is rarely successful. Hoffmeister said not many people plea not guilty by reason of insanity.

In Ohio, to be legally insane, the defense must prove that the person charged didn’t know the difference between right and wrong at the time of the crime. Pleading not guilty by reason of insanity puts the burden on the defense to prove that Walters was insane when he committed the crime.

“It’s a very high standard to be legally insane,” Hoffmeister said.

EARLIER: Man pleads not guilty by reason of insanity in deadly stolen cruiser crash, stabbing

Dayton police have previously said they believe Walters was on drugs during the incident.

Hoffmeister said that being high on drugs or alcohol will not lead a person to be declared legally insane.

“There must be a mental illness, and it can’t be exacerbated by drugs,” Hoffmeister said. “Drugs can be a factor when it comes to mitigation or trying to lessen the penalty.”

Raymond Walters.
Raymond Walters.

Walters’ attorney has requested a mental competency evaluation, which Walters will undergo before his next court date.

He will be in court next on Dec. 12.

Hoffmeister said the competency evaluation will show whether Walters is able to stand trial, understand the procedures and communicate with his attorney. The judge will determine if Walters is competent.

A jury would determine if Walters was insane at the time of the crime.

EARLIER REPORTING: Man charged in death of two children, cruiser theft, appears in court

Walters' father previously told this news organization that his son didn't seem to know who he was when he stabbed his father multiple times and stole his pickup truck.

Walters crashed that truck, then stole a Riverside police cruiser that ended up crashing into a van with seven children inside it. Cousins Penelope Jasko and Elanor McBride, both 6, died at Dayton Children’s Hospital after the crash.

After learning his next court date, Walters asked Judge Gerald Parker if he could address the courtroom. Parker said he needed to consult his attorney, who temporarily seemed to convince Walters it was in his best interest not to say anything.

But as Walters walked back to his seat, he did speak.

“They need to investigate the dirty cops,” Walters said.

Some spectators in the courtroom gasped.

Pentecost could not be reached for comment on this story.

Walters faces murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated vehicular assault and felonious assault charges.

MORE: Children killed in stolen cruiser crash ‘did everything together’