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Debra Corcoran Explores Insanity Defense After Wawa Shooting Verdict

Attorney Debra D. Corcoran discusses the validity of the insanity defense with NBC12 Newsroom after a 34-year-old Chesterfield man was found not guilty on all charges by reason of insanity on August 5, 2019.

George Buschmann was accused of shooting and killing 24-year-old Robert Gooch IV outside of a Wawa convenience store. He was charged with first-degree murder, use of a firearm to commit a felony offense, grand larceny of a motor vehicle, felony eluding, and unlawful possession of a firearm due to being subject to a restraining order.

Although Attorney Corcoran didn’t represent anyone in this case, she has worked with clients who used insanity as their defense. She says proving insanity is quite difficult.

“What was his behavior during the crime? Was he delusional? Was he making accusations? Paranoid?” Attorney Corcoran asked when being interviewed by NBC12 Newsroom.

“What the person was about before the crime was committed. Did he have bouts of psychosis? Was he diagnosed as schizophrenic? Was he in and out of mental health institutions?”

Essentially, the person’s past—and well-documented—bouts with mental illness are the key to successfully administering the insanity defense. To prove this affirmative defense, the defendant must argue that he/she is not responsible for his/her actions because of a persistent or episodic psychiatric disease when the criminal act occurred.

Psychologists working on the case determined that the defendant’s mental state when the crimes in question occurred “negates criminal liability.” The court ordered him to a secure environment away from the public while he receives the proper medical treatment for his condition.

The defendant’s sister, Ruth, told WRIC Newsroom that her brother’s issues originated from mental illness. She claimed he always seemed a bit off growing up and was diagnosed with schizophrenia at one point.

“I’m happier when someone commits a heinous crime when they are found not guilty or acquitted by reason of insanity, that they are diverted to an environment where the public is safe,” Corcoran added.

For more information, contact The Law Office of Debra D. Corcoran today at (804) 557-0440.