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Lord v. State (11/4/2011) ap-2333

Lord v. State (11/4/2011) ap-2333

                                                 NOTICE 
        The text of this opinion can be corrected before the opinion is published in the Pacific 
        Reporter.   Readers are encouraged to bring typographical or other formal errors to the 
        attention of the Clerk of the Appellate Courts. 

                                  303 K Street, Anchorage, Alaska   99501
 
                                           Fax:  (907) 264-0878
 
                            E-mail:  corrections @ appellate.courts.state.ak.us
 

               IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ALASKA 

CYNTHIA LORD,                                     ) 
                                                  )         Court of Appeals No. A-10117 
                            Appellant,            )       Trial Court No. 3AN-04-2620 CR 
                                                  ) 
             v.                                   )                   O P I N I O N 
                                                  ) 
STATE OF ALASKA,                                  ) 
                                                  ) 
                            Appellee.             )         No. 2333 - November 4, 2011 
                                                  ) 

                 Appeal     from    the  Superior    Court,    Third    Judicial   District, 
                 Anchorage, Philip R. Volland, Judge. 

                 Appearances:      Josie   Garton,   Assistant    Public   Defender,    and 
                 Quinlan Steiner, Public Defender, Anchorage, for the Appellant. 
                 Nancy R. Simel, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Special 
                 Prosecutions and Appeals, Anchorage, and Daniel S. Sullivan, 
                 Attorney General, Juneau, for the Appellee. 

                 Before:    Coats,    Chief   Judge,   and   Mannheimer       and   Bolger, 
                 Judges. 

                 COATS,      Chief Judge. 

----------------------- Page 2-----------------------

                Cynthia Lord was charged with three counts of murder in the first degree1 

for killing her three sons, Christopher, Michael, and Joseph. Superior Court Judge Philip 

R. Volland conducted a non-jury trial.          Lord asserted that she was not guilty by reason 
of insanity.2   Judge Volland instead found that Lord was guilty but mentally ill.3 

                Lord asserts that Judge Volland erred in reaching this verdict. She contends 

that she established that she was not guilty by reason of insanity by showing that she did 

not "appreciate the nature and quality" of her conduct. She also attacks Judge Volland's 

interpretation of the Alaska statutes defining the defense of insanity, and argues that 

those statutes are unconstitutional. 

                In this decision we uphold Judge Volland's verdict that Lord was guilty but 

mentally ill.   We also uphold the constitutionality of the Alaska statutes that define the 

defense of insanity. 

                Alaska's insanity defense 
                Before 1972, Alaska applied a version of the M'Naghten test.4                Under this 

test, a defendant could be found not guilty by reason of insanity if she either did not 

appreciate   the   nature   and   quality   of   her   conduct   or   if   she   did   not   understand   the 
wrongfulness of her conduct.5         In 1972, the Alaska Legislature added the "substantial 

        1   AS 11.41.100. 

        2   See AS 12.47.010 (stating standard for affirmative defense of insanity). 

        3   See AS 12.47.030 (stating standard for guilty but mentally ill). 

        4   See Schade v. State, 512 P.2d 907, 910-11 (Alaska 1973); Chase v. State, 369 

P.2d 997, 1000 (Alaska 1962). 

        5   Hart   v.   State,   702   P.2d   651,   656   (Alaska   App.   1985)   (quoting   Wayne   R. 

                                                                                         (continued...) 

                                                  - 2 -                                             2333
 

----------------------- Page 3-----------------------

capacity test," which allowed the defense of insanity when the defendant lacked the 
substantial capacity to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law.6 

               In 1982, the legislature amended AS 12.47, greatly limiting the defense of 
insanity.7  There are now two ways for a defendant to gain an acquittal as a result of 

insanity.   Under AS 12.47.010(a), the defendant can establish insanity as an affirmative 

defense if the defendant "was unable, as a result of mental disease or defect, to appreciate 

the   nature  and   quality  of  [her]  conduct."   In   addition,  AS   12.47.020    provides   a 

"diminished capacity" defense.        Under that statute, the defendant must be found not 

guilty by reason of insanity if, because of a mental disease or defect, there is a reasonable 
doubt that the defendant had the culpable mental state necessary to commit the crime.8 

               The greatest change in the statutes governing the insanity defense was the 

creation of the verdict of "guilty but mentally ill." Under AS 12.47.030, a defendant who 

engages in criminal conduct is guilty but mentally ill if, because of a mental disease or 

defect,   the   defendant    lacked   "the  substantial   capacity   either   to  appreciate   the 
wrongfulness of that conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of the law."9 

       5   (...continued) 

LaFave & Austin W. Scott Jr., Criminal Law  37, at 275 (1972)). 

       6   Schade, 512 P.2d at 911. 

       7   Hart, 702 P.2d at 654. 

       8   AS 12.47.020(b). 

       9   AS 12.47.030(a). 

                                              - 3 -                                         2333
 

----------------------- Page 4-----------------------

Under the law as it existed prior to the 1982 amendments, a defendant would be found 
not guilty by reason of insanity under this standard.10 

                A    defendant   found   guilty   but   mentally   ill   is   not   relieved   of   criminal 

responsibility.    Alaska Statute 12.47.050(a) directs the court to sentence a defendant 

found guilty but mentally ill "as provided by law."  In other words, the statute directs the 

sentencing judge to impose a sentence based on the normal Chaney sentencing criteria. 

The statute directs the Department of Corrections to provide mental health treatment to 

the defendant until the defendant "no longer suffers from a mental disease or defect that 
causes the defendant to be dangerous to the public peace or safety."11             During treatment, 

the   defendant   may   not   be   released   on   furlough   or   on   parole.12  At   the   successful 

conclusion of treatment, the defendant must serve the remainder of her sentence.13 

                This disposition for persons found guilty but mentally ill differs from the 

disposition for persons found not guilty by reason of insanity.               Defendants found not 

guilty by reason of insanity may be released immediately if they prove to the court by 

clear and convincing evidence that they are "not presently suffering from any mental 
illness that causes [them] to be dangerous to the public."14              Until that time, they are 

committed to the Commissioner of Health and Social Services for treatment for a period 

not to exceed the maximum term of imprisonment for the crime for which they were 

        10  See Schade, 512 P.2d at 910-11. 

        11  AS 12.47.050(b). 

        12  AS 12.47.050(d). 

        13  AS 12.47.050(c). 

        14  AS 12.47.090(c). 

                                                 - 4 -                                             2333
 

----------------------- Page 5-----------------------

found not guilty by reason of insanity.15     They are entitled to yearly hearings where they 

have the opportunity to establish that they are "not presently suffering from any mental 
illness that causes [them] to be dangerous to the public."16       If they are still in custody at 

the end of the maximum term of imprisonment for the crime for which they were found 
not guilty by reason of insanity, the State can file a petition for civil commitment.17 

               Factual and procedural background 

               Judge Volland issued a written verdict in this case.  The following facts are 

from that verdict: 

                       Cynthia Lord is gravely disabled by mental illness. 
               She suffers from schizoaffective disorder, depressive type. 
               This disorder is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, 
               disordered      thought    process    and    disturbed    emotional 
               experience.     Ms. Lord has been in and out of psychiatric 
               hospitals   since   age   17,   and   had   been   receiving   mental 
               health services in Anchorage regularly since 1994.              Her 
               condition is not likely to improve although medication may 
               reduce her hallucinations.       Since at least 2003, Ms. Lord 
               has had delusions about a force she calls "Evil," delusions 
               about   being   watched   by  police   and   the   CIA,   and   about 
               Satanic labels on food.  Although suffering from delusions 
               part    of  the  time,   Ms.   Lord   has   been   able   to  secure 
               employment in the past, attend school at Wayland Baptist 
               University, take care of her children, and undertake daily 

        15 AS 12.47.090(c)-(d). 

        16 AS 12.47.090(e). 

        17 AS 47.30.700. 

                                               - 5 -                                           2333 

----------------------- Page 6-----------------------

life   care   responsibilities     such   as  shopping,     cooking, 
housecleaning, etc. 

        On     March      16,   2004,    the   Anchorage       Police 
Department received a 911 call from Ms. Lord reporting 
that   she   had   "killed   my    three   boys."   APD     had   had 
experiences with Ms. Lord before, and the police response 
was initially skeptical about her report.         However, when 
officers entered her home, they found the bodies of Ms. 
Lord's three children:        Joseph, age 16, Michael, age 18, 
and Christopher, age 19.        Each boy had been killed by a 
single shot to the head. 

        Ms. Lord gave a voluntary statement to police that 
day. She told APD Detectives Mark Huelskoetter and Glen 
Klinkhart that she had purchased a gun in October 2003, 
when she made the decision to kill her sons.  Ms. Lord said 
that on the day before [she killed her sons] she mixed some 
of   her   medication   with   Crystal   Light   so   that   her   boys 
would drink it and get sleepy.         She set her alarm for early 
in the morning and woke at approximately 2:30 a.m.                  It 
took   her   about   an   hour   to   work   up   the   courage   to   kill 
Michael,   her   eighteen   year   old,   during   which   time   she 
drank alcohol.      She first worried that the gunshot would 
wake the other boys or her neighbors.             She then covered 
Michael's body with a blanket and waited for her other 
sons to wake up. 

        Ms. Lord told police that when Joseph, the youngest, 
woke up she told him that Michael was sick and would not 
be going to school.       Joseph then left to attend classes at 
East High.  When Christopher woke up around 10:00 a.m., 
she waited until he was playing video games in front of the 
entertainment center. She then shot him in the head, pulled 
his body into another room, and covered it with clothes so 
that   Joseph     would    not   see  it  when    he   came    home. 

                                - 6 -                                           2333
 

----------------------- Page 7-----------------------

                Christopher had asked about Michael, but Ms. Lord told 
                him that Michael was sick as she had told Joseph. She then 
                locked the door so "that when Joey came home ... I would 
                be ready with the gun." When Joseph returned from school 
                at   around   2:30   p.m.   and   walked   in   the   door,   Ms.   Lord 
                waited until Joseph's face was turned away from her and 
                shot him in the back of the head.          She then contemplated 
                killing herself for a couple of hours and eventually called 
                the police around 4:30 p.m.         Ms. Lord told detectives she 
                expected punishment for what she did.18 

                Several psychologists testified at the trial. Judge Volland summarized their 

testimony: 

                Dr.   [David]    Sperbeck     spent   approximately      eleven   hours 
                interviewing Ms. Lord, exclusive of psychological testing. 

                        Dr. Sperbeck testified that Ms. Lord had good recall of 
                events and described the shootings to him in greater detail 
                than to police.    He testified that Ms. Lord told him that she 
                couldn't tell what was real or not and that she didn't want her 
                children to grow up in a world of deception and lies.              Ms. 
                Lord   told   Dr.   Sperbeck   that   she   knew   the   boys   were   her 
                children     but  that  they   acted   like  robots.   Dr.    Sperbeck 
                testified that, despite the fact that Ms. Lord's actions were 
                prompted by her hallucinations, she clearly knew that she 
                was killing her children. 

                 He testified that his opinion was that "Lord understood the nature and 

quality of her conduct" in that she "under[stood] the consequences of [her] act[s]."  She 

"understood   that   placing   a   gun   to   the   head   of   her   children   would   kill   them." Dr. 

Sperbeck was confident from Lord's repeated statements to him that she knew she was 

        18  Footnotes omitted. 

                                                 - 7 -                                             2333 

----------------------- Page 8-----------------------

killing her boys.  Judge Volland found that Dr. Lawrence Maile testified similarly to Dr. 

Sperbeck: 

                Based on Ms. Lord's systematic planning to kill her sons, her 
                ability to identify her sons, distinguish them as human beings, 
                and describe the consequences of her direct actions on her 
                sons, Dr. Maile expressed the professional opinion that there 
                [were] no impediments to Ms. Lord being found criminally 
                responsible for the charges she faces. 

                Dr. Bruce Gage testified for the defense.           Judge Volland summarized his 

testimony as follows: 

                Dr. Gage concluded that Ms. Lord did "understand that she 
                was killing her boys so, to that extent, she understood the 
                nature of her act."     However, Dr. Gage was of the opinion 
                that   this   did   not   take   into   account   Ms.   Lord's   reason   for 
                killing her children, i.e., to save them.       Dr. Gage was of the 
                opinion   that   if   this   motivation   and   context   for   her   act   is 
                considered,   Ms.   Lord      did  not   understand   the   nature   and 
                quality of her conduct.       Dr. Gage opined that if Ms. Lord 
                believed she was saving her children, she did not appreciate 
                the quality of her act because she did not appreciate its true 
                consequences. 

                Cynthia Lord testified at the trial. Judge Volland summarized her testimony 

as follows: 

                During her testimony, [Ms. Lord] spoke with the same flat 
                affect that was characteristic of her interview with police, 
                and     apparently     characteristic    of   her   discussions     with 
                mental     health    professionals     for  the   last  decade.     She 
                described   her   delusions   at   length.     Ms.   Lord   retold   the 
                killing of her children with the same detail she gave to 
                police.  On cross-examination, Ms. Lord admitted that she 
                knew she was pointing a gun at Michael and that when she 

                                                 - 8 -                                             2333
 

----------------------- Page 9-----------------------

                shot the gun it would kill him.          She stated that had her 
                daughter been in the home at the time, she would have 
                killed her also "because she's one of the siblings."              Ms. 
                Lord testified that she knew Michael was dead after she 
                shot him.    She also admitted that after killing Joseph, she 
                thought:     "Oh   my    god,   I  killed  my    son."   Regarding 
                Christopher, she admitted on cross-examination that "I got 
                the gun and I shot him in the head" and that she had told 
                [another examining doctor] that she shot him in the back of 
                the head because she did not want the last thing he saw to 
                be his mother shooting him.  As to Joseph, she said "I shot 
                him."  She acknowledged that when she shot her boys, she 
                intended to pull the trigger and knew that a bullet would go 
                into their heads and they would die.            She admitted they 
                were her boys and that they were human.               She said she 
                thought about killing herself "because she couldn't live 
                without them."19 

                In reaching his verdict, Judge Volland first addressed whether Lord had the 

mens rea for murder in the first degree. As already explained, under AS 12.47.020(b) a 

defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if, "as a result of mental disease or defect, 

there   is   a   reasonable   doubt   as   to   the   existence   of   a   culpable   mental   state   that   is   an 

element of the crime." 

                To establish the mens rea for murder in the first degree, the State had to 

prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lord intended to cause the death of Michael, 

Joseph, and Christopher.       Alaska law states that a person acts intentionally "when the 

person's    conscious     objective   is  to  cause  that   result;   when  intentionally  causing    a 

        19  Footnotes omitted. 

                                                - 9 -                                             2333 

----------------------- Page 10-----------------------

particular result is an element of an offense, that intent need not be the person's only 
objective."20 

                Judge Volland found that "the evidence is overwhelming that Ms. Lord 

engaged in a deliberate, conscious, and detailed plan to kill her three sons."  He then set 

out Lord's meticulous planning that preceded the murders, and noted the opinions of the 

psychologists who testified at trial that Lord intended to kill her sons: 

                According to Dr. Sperbeck and Dr. Maile, Ms. Lord knew her 
                sons were her sons at the time of the shootings. Even Dr. 
                Gage   stated   in   his   written   report   that   Lord   knew   she   was 
                killing her sons.   Dr. Gage also acknowledged that Ms. Lord 
                had to have the intent to kill her sons to also have the intent 
                to save them. 

                After finding that Lord had the mens rea to commit murder in the first 

degree, Judge Volland examined whether Lord had established the affirmative defense 

of insanity. Under AS 12.47.010(a), a defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if the 

defendant establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that, when engaged in the 

criminal conduct,  the defendant was "unable, as a result of mental disease or defect, to 

appreciate the nature and quality of that conduct." 
                Judge Volland first discussed State v. Patterson,21 in which the Alaska 

Supreme Court examined the meaning of AS 12.47.010(a) - in particular, the meaning 

of "unable, as a result of mental disease or defect, to appreciate the nature and quality of 
that conduct."22    The court observed that the legislative history of the statute contained 

two examples of defendants who could establish that they were unable to appreciate the 

        20  AS 11.81.900(a)(1). 

        21  740 P.2d 944 (Alaska 1987). 

        22  Id. at 946-49. 

                                                 - 10 -                                              2333 

----------------------- Page 11-----------------------

nature and quality of their acts under this standard:  a defendant who is "unable to realize 

that he is shooting someone with a gun when he pulls the trigger on what he believes to 

be a water pistol, or a murder defendant who believes he is attacking the ghost of [his] 
mother      rather   than   a  living   human     being."23     According       to  the  House     Judiciary 

Committee   report   on   the   legislation,   the   defense   of   insanity   would   not   apply   "to   a 

defendant   who   contends   that   he   was   instructed   to   kill   by   a   hallucination,   since   the 

defendant would still realize the nature and quality of his act, even though he thought it 
might be justified by a supernatural being."24 

                 Turning to the facts of this case, Judge Volland concluded: 

                 [T]o appreciate the nature and quality of murder means that 
                 the defendant must have understood the act that he or she 
                 engages in will cause the death of another person.  Thus, for 
                 Ms.   Lord   to   prevail   on   the   defense   of   insanity   under   AS 
                 12.47.010(a),   she   must   show,   by   a   preponderance   of   the 
                 evidence,   that   she   was   unable,   as   a   result   of   her   mental 
                 illness, to recognize that pointing a gun at the head of her 
                 sons and pulling the trigger, knowing they were her sons, 
                 would kill them. 

                         The      court     rejects    Dr.    Gage's      reasoning      that 
                 understanding the "quality" of an act requires inquiry into the 
                 context   of   the   act   and   the   defendant's   motivation.    In   the 
                 court's view this invites an inquiry into wrongfulness.               This 
                 is especially true in Ms. Lord's case.  Ms. Lord's motivation 
                 to save her children is precisely why she did not consider the 
                 act   to   be   wrongful.   Even   Dr.   Gage   admitted   that   in   Ms. 
                 Lord's case, her motivation and belief that her act was not 
                 wrong "correspond." 

         23  Id. at 946 n.8. 

         24  Id. 

                                                   -  11 -                                                2333 

----------------------- Page 12-----------------------

               Judge Volland summarized why he concluded that Lord did not establish 

that she failed to appreciate the nature and quality of her conduct: 

               There is much evidence that Ms. Lord appreciated that she 
               was killing her children. She stated the same to Dr. Sperbeck 
               and Dr. Maile and admitted in her own testimony that after 
               killing Michael, she recognized that she had just shot one of 
               her children.   Ms. Lord had to work up the courage to shoot 
               Michael.   She covered her children after she shot them so she 
               would not see them.      She shot her sons in the back of the 
               head or while they were sleeping so they would not see their 
               mother shoot them.     She shot each boy in a way that would 
               cause instant death and the least pain. [The court finds that 
               these   actions  are  not  consistent  with   a  mother   shooting 
               [children] she believes are non-human clones or robots.  The 
               evidence at trial that Ms. Lord did not believe her boys were 
               her boys was equivocal at best.   The court does not find that 
               Ms. Lord's statement to Dr. Sperbeck that "I was 80% sure 
               I'd never see them again on this earth" evidenced that she did 
               not believe she was killing them.  Ms. Lord's admissions on 
               cross-examination convinced the court that she knew she was 
               killing her boys.]   Because of this, the court concludes that 
               the defense has not established by a preponderance of the 
               evidence that Ms. Lord failed to appreciate the nature and 
               quality of her conduct as a result of her mental disease.25 

               Judge Volland concluded, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Lord 

was guilty but mentally ill. He concluded that the "evidence is undisputed that Ms. Lord 

suffers from a severe, disabling mental illness," and that she "killed her children to save 

them from 'Evil' and to send them to heaven.   She believed that she was doing the right 

       25  Footnote incorporated as bracketed text. 

                                             -  12 -                                       2333 

----------------------- Page 13-----------------------

thing and would do it over again; she testified to this belief at trial.  The court finds her 

belief genuine and firmly held." 

                 Why we uphold Judge Volland's verdict that Lord was guilty but 
                 mentally ill 

                 Lord argues that Judge Volland interpreted the Alaska statutes setting out 

the defense of insanity too narrowly.           She argues that, in arriving at his verdict, Judge 

Volland only applied AS 12.47.020, the diminished capacity statute, which provides that 

a defendant is not guilty by reason of insanity if, "as a result of mental disease or defect, 

there   is   a   reasonable   doubt   as   to   the   existence   of   a   culpable   mental   state   that   is   an 

element of the crime."         Lord argues that the defense   of insanity is broader, because 

AS   12.47.010(a)   also   establishes   an   affirmative   defense   of   not   guilty   by   reason   of 

insanity if the defendant engaged in criminal conduct but "was unable, as a result of 

mental disease or defect, to appreciate the nature and quality of that conduct." 

                 In rejecting Lord's insanity defense, Judge Volland found that, even though 

the "evidence [was] undisputed that Ms. Lord suffers from a severe, disabling mental 

illness," Lord formed the culpable mental state to commit murder in the first degree.  He 

found   that   "the   evidence   is   overwhelming   that   Ms.   Lord   engaged   in   a   deliberate, 

conscious, and detailed plan to kill her three sons." 

                 Lord agrees that this finding was sufficient for Judge Volland to reject a 

"diminished capacity" defense under AS 12.47.020.  But she asserts that Judge Volland 

erred by using these same findings to reject her affirmative defense of not guilty by 

reason of insanity under AS 12.47.010.             Lord argues that if the legislature intended to 

restrict the insanity defense to only an inquiry about whether a defendant could form the 

mens rea to commit the crime, then AS 12.47.010 would be superfluous.  She argues that 

                                                   -  13 -                                             2333
 

----------------------- Page 14-----------------------

the legislative history of the statutes governing the insanity defense show no intent to 

limit the defense in this way. 

                Lord argues that, applying the proper test in AS 12.47.010(a), the evidence 

at trial established the affirmative defense of insanity because it showed that she had no 

understanding of the meaning of death, and therefore did not appreciate the nature and 

quality of her acts.     But Judge Volland rejected the factual basis for this argument.  He 

found that Lord knew she was killing her boys and appreciated the nature of death based 

on her testimony that she "was 80% sure I would never see them again on this earth." 

                In explaining his verdict, Judge Volland carefully considered the testimony 

of the psychologists as well as the evidence of Lord's hallucinations and delusions.  He 

concluded that, in spite of these mental defects, Lord understood the nature and quality 

of her acts.    He set out her meticulous reasoning and the steps she took as she planned 

and carried out the killing of her sons.   He concluded that she understood what she was 

doing and understood the concept of death - she knew with substantial certainty that, 

by killing her sons, she was removing them from this earth and that she would never see 

them alive again.  We conclude that there is no merit to Lord's claim that Judge Volland 

failed to make the findings necessary to reject her affirmative defense of insanity. 

                To find that Lord was guilty but mentally ill, Judge Volland had to find that 

she   lacked   "the   substantial   capacity   either   to   appreciate   the   wrongfulness   of   [her] 
conduct or to conform that conduct to the requirements of the law."26                   Judge Volland 

concluded that, because of her mental illness, Lord sincerely believed she was doing the 

right thing by killing her sons "to save them from 'Evil' and send them to heaven."  He 

found that, because of her mental disease or defect, she lacked the substantial capacity 

        26  AS 12.47.030(a). 

                                                 -  14 -                                              2333 

----------------------- Page 15-----------------------

to appreciate the wrongfulness of her conduct.   Judge Volland's findings are supported 

by the record, and they support his verdict that Lord was guilty but mentally ill. 

                Why we reject Lord's constitutional attacks 

                Lord's initial constitutional attack is based   on   her argument that Judge 

Volland misinterpreted AS 12.47.010 to provide a defense of not guilty by reason of 

insanity than is no broader than the "diminished capacity" defense in AS 12.47.020.  She 

argues   that   the   judge's   narrow   interpretation,   in   conjunction   with   the   more   severe 

sentencing provisions that follow a verdict of guilty but mentally ill, violated her federal 

and state guarantees to due process and to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. 

 But as already explained, Judge Volland carefully considered whether Lord appreciated 

the nature and quality of her conduct as required by AS 12.47.010(a), and concluded that 

she did.   We have upheld those findings. 

                Lord raises a more fundamental attack on the statutes setting out the defense 

of not guilty by reason of insanity.  Lord argues that the statutes violate both the United 

States and Alaska constitutions by imposing criminal responsibility in cases in which the 

defendant does not have the capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of her conduct. 

                If the State proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed 

the mens rea required by a criminal statute, the United States Constitution does not 
require any further inquiry into the defendant's mental state to support a conviction.27 

        27  See, e.g., Powell v. Texas, 392 U.S. 514, 535-36 (1968) (refusing to define an 

insanity defense in constitutional terms and stating that "The doctrines of actus reus, mens 
rea, insanity, mistake, justification, and duress have historically provided the tools for a 
constantly shifting adjustment of the tension between the evolving aims of the criminal 
law and changing religious, moral, philosophical, and medical views of the nature of man. 
This process of adjustment has always been thought to be the province of the States."); 
                                                                                        (continued...) 

                                                 -  15 -                                           2333
 

----------------------- Page 16-----------------------

Lord argues that we should interpret the Alaska Constitution more broadly than the 
Supreme   Court   has   interpreted   the   federal   constitution.28      But   we   have   previously 

rejected constitutional attacks on the Alaska statutes that set out the defense of not guilty 
by reason of insanity.  In Hart v. State,29 the defendant argued that holding a person who 

lacked the capacity to conform her conduct to the requirements of the law criminally 

responsible for that conduct violated the due process, cruel and unusual punishment, and 
equal protection clauses of the United States and Alaska constitutions.30                  In rejecting 

those constitutional challenges, we observed that the Alaska statutes required the State 

"to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in conscious voluntary 
acts ... and possessed the requisite mens rea for the offense."31          We ultimately concluded 

that   "the   State   may   constitutionally   eliminate   a   separate   insanity   defense   based   on 

'irresistible impulse' or inability to conform one's conduct to the requirements of the 

        27  (...continued) 

see also Clark v. Arizona, 548 U.S. 735, 752-53 (2006); Walker v. Endell, 850 F.2d 470, 
473 (9th Cir. 1987) (rejecting the argument that the Due Process Clause of the United 
States   Constitution   requires   that   "criminal   intent"   be   an   element   of   kidnapping   and 
robbery); Davis v. McCotter, 766 F.2d 203, 204 (5th Cir. 1985) (rejecting the argument 
that "voluntariness" is a constitutionally required element of robbery); United States v. 
Mitchell, 725 F.2d 832, 835 (2d Cir. 1983) (refusing to "constitutionaliz[e] a particular 
formula for disproving the defense of duress"). 

        28  Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, 138 P.3d 238, 245 (Alaska 2006) (citing 

Anchorage Police Dep't Employees Ass'n v. Anchorage , 24 P.3d 547, 550 (Alaska 2001) 
&  Breese   v.   Smith,   501   P.2d   159,   170   (Alaska   1972))   (recognizing   that   the   Alaska 
Constitution's guarantees of privacy and individual liberty are "broader in scope" than 
those in the federal constitution). 

        29  702 P.2d 651 (Alaska App. 1985). 

        30  Id. at 653. 

        31  Id. at 655-56 (footnotes omitted). 

                                                 -  16 -                                            2333
 

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law."32    We   stated   that   the   "determination   of   the   point   at   which   a   person's   mental 

condition justifies exculpation is ... an ethical question for legislators and juries, not 
courts."33   We also upheld the statutes establishing the verdict of guilty but mentally ill 

against constitutional attack in Barrett v. State.34        We adhere to those decisions. 

                Judge   Volland   required   the   State   to   prove   beyond   a   reasonable 
                doubt that Lord possessed the mens rea for first-degree murder 

                Lord argues that Judge Volland impermissibly shifted the burden of proving 

the mens rea of first-degree murder - i.e., the intent to cause death - on to her.  But the 

record clearly shows that in reaching his verdict, Judge Volland carefully examined the 

evidence and concluded that the State had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Lord 

intended to cause the death of Michael, Joseph, and Christopher Lord.                    The record is 

therefore clear that Judge Volland correctly applied the standard of proof. 

                Conclusion 

                The judgment of the superior court is AFFIRMED. 

        32  Id. at 659 (footnote omitted). 

        33  Id. (citations omitted); see generally Wayne R. LaFave, Substantive Criminal 

Law,  7.1(d) at 521-23 (2d ed. 2003) (collecting arguments in favor of and opposed to 
abolishing the insanity defense). 

        34  772 P.2d 559, 573 (Alaska App. 1989). 

                                                 -  17 -                                             2333 
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