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Man Who Killed Pro-lifer
May Plead Insanity

Man charged with killing Owosso abortion protester
to push ahead with insanity defense

By the Associated Press
January 15, 2010

Harlan Drake

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 comment.

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 Michigan law.

“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.


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