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Highway Shooting Suspect to Plead Guilty

The Nation

August 09, 2005|From Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The man charged with carrying out a string of highway shootings that terrorized central Ohio and killed one woman is dropping his insanity defense and agreeing to plead guilty, a judge said Monday.

Barring a last-minute change of heart by the defendant or prosecutors, Charles A. McCoy Jr. will enter the plea today, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Charles A. Schneider said after meeting with one of the man's lawyers. He did not provide details of the agreement.

McCoy's first trial ended in a mistrial in May. Jurors could not decide if McCoy was legally insane, meaning he did not understand right from wrong, during the shootings over five months in 2003 and 2004.

The judge said he would recommend that McCoy, 29, serve his sentence in a prison mental health wing so he could be treated for paranoid schizophrenia.

"Whatever happens is not a very happy ending," said Michael Miller, one of McCoy's lawyers. "We've accepted what's going to happen."

Prosecutor Ron O'Brien would not confirm a deal had been reached but said an agreement would be discussed today.

During the trial, a defense psychiatrist said McCoy was desperate to rid himself of voices in his head that called him a "wimp" for not standing up to mocking from television programs and commercials.

But a prosecution psychiatrist said McCoy showed that he knew his actions were wrong by the steps he took to avoid capture, such as shooting in other counties when police focused on the Columbus area.

The shootings frightened commuters and residents as bullets struck vehicles and houses at different spots along or near the southern leg of Interstate 270, the beltway that encircles Columbus and carries about 77,000 vehicles a day.

The only person struck by any of the shots was Gail Knisley, 62, who died while a friend was driving her to a doctor's appointment. The bullet penetrated the driver's door, nicked the driver's jacket and struck Knisley in the chest.

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