Judge: Ohio highway shooter drops insanity defense, agrees to plead guilty
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The man who carried out a series of highway shootings that terrorized central Ohio and killed one woman is dropping his insanity defense and agreeing to plead guilty, the judge said Monday.Barring a last-minute change of heart by the defendant or prosecutors, Charles McCoy Jr. will enter the plea Tuesday afternoon, Judge Charles Schneider said after meeting with one of the man’s attorneys. He did not have 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.McCoy, 29, faces decades in prison. The judge said he will recommend that McCoy serve his sentence in a prison mental health wing so he can be treated for his paranoid schizophrenia.”Whatever happens is not a very happy ending,” said Michael Miller, one of McCoy’s attorneys. “I hope for a resolution on Tuesday. 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 Tuesday.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. Toward the end of the shootings, he believed firing from overpasses would make news coverage of Michael Jackson stop.However, a prosecution psychiatrist said McCoy showed he knew his actions were wrong by the steps he took to avoid capture, such as shooting in other counties when police and publicity focused on the Columbus area.The shootings frightened commuters and residents for months 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 daily.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 and a day of shopping. The bullet penetrated the driver’s door on the car she was in, nicked the driver’s jacket and struck Knisley in the chest.A relative of Knisley said the family would not comment until Tuesday.An indictment had included a possible death sentence, but after the mistrial the prosecutor said he would not seek the death penalty in a second trial because of the evidence of McCoy’s severe illness.McCoy was arrested on March 17, 2004, in Las Vegas, where he had fled after his father told him police wanted to test his guns. He had registered at a Las Vegas motel under his own name even though his name and license plate number had been broadcast nationwide.Vail – Colorado
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