CORUNNA, Michigan — A man accused of killing an abortion protester and a
business owner in a small Michigan city will press ahead with an insanity
defense, his lawyer says.
Attorney Robert Ashley said he will rely on an independent evaluation of Harlan
Drake’s mental health, although he acknowledged that it conflicts with an
evaluation of his client by the state.
“We believe we have a defense of lack of criminal responsibility,” Ashley said
in an interview Thursday. “We’re going to be presenting that defense. ... This
is a question for the jury.”
Drake is charged with first-degree murder in the death of James Pouillon, who
was fatally shot Sept. 11 while protesting abortion outside Owosso High School.
The 33-year-old trucker is also charged with killing business owner Mike Fuoss
at his office that same morning.
Ashley declined to disclose details of the mental-health exam. Drake attempted
suicide in jail shortly after his arrest. His family said he had battled
depression and was having problems with medication.
“We will obviously be opposing this insanity defense. We will rebut it in any
way we can,” assistant prosecutor Sara Edwards said. She declined further
Drake admitted his role in the killings and told police that he loaded guns into
his pickup on the eve of the shootings, according to court documents.
Prosecutors have mentioned some type of grudge as a possible motive, but Drake’s
family denies it.
Trial has been scheduled for Feb. 23 in Shiawassee County Circuit Court. The
issue for the jury will be Drake’s mental status at the time of the killings.
If found not guilty by reason of insanity, a defendant is sent to the state
psychiatry center for further evaluation and possible treatment, according to
“It’s also possible a person can be found not guilty by reason of insanity and
released back into community,” said Margaret Raben, a defense lawyer who is not
involved in the case.