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Lawyer Says Insanity Led to 1991 Costa Mesa Shootings : Courts: Michael Rahming opened fire at the Fairview Developmental Center because he suffers from paranoid delusions, attorney tells jurors.

August 11, 1993|RENE LYNCH | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — A former painter who went on a bloody rampage two years ago in Costa Mesa, killing one of his supervisors and injuring two other people, suffers from paranoid delusions and a "ghost between his ears," his defense attorney told jurors Tuesday.

Michael Rahming has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the July, 1991, shootings at the Fairview Developmental Center, a facility for the developmentally disabled where he worked as a painter.

Prosecutors have described the former Long Beach resident as a "disgruntled employee who decided to take matters into his own hands," but defense attorney Michael J. Naughton, who conceded that his client committed the slayings, told jurors that the evidence proves that Rahming was insane at the time of the shooting.

"There is no reasonable, rational, sane explanation for what he did, other than he's crazy," Naughton said. He later added that his client has been diagnosed as suffering from paranoid delusions and is "bedeviled by the ghost between his ears."

While Naughton stressed clinical reports about his client's mental condition, he also relied on colorful, joking language to describe Rahming.

"This crazy doesn't understand anything like us," Naughton said, motioning to his client. He also told jurors that his client "doesn't have both oars in the water," and noted that Rahming's "TV is on a different channel than the rest of us."

Rahming had a troubled history at the facility and had filed numerous complaints claiming that he suffered discrimination because he is black. The complaints were deemed untrue, but ironically Naughton said Rahming shot the men who were "bending over backward" to assist him.

On the day of the rampage, Rahming opened fire in a coffee break room. His supervisor, James H. Pichon, 38, was wounded and another supervisor, Allen R. Motis, 53 was chased down and killed.

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