Not Sold on the Insanity Stuff

18 10 2011

In the book “John Wayne Gacy: Defending a Monster,” former Gacy lawyer Sam L. Amirante writes: “The basis of our defense was to save his [Gacy’s] life and allow him to stay in a structured environment where he could be studied and hopefully prevent a repeat of such horrific crimes.” That is all well and good, but if the defense was conducted like the book’s trial portions, I can see why the jury found Gacy guilty of serial killings.

But first, let’s look at the book as a whole, insanity defense aside. The book is good and well worth reading. The first part threw me a bit. It is apparently a fictionalized account told mostly from the point of view of Gacy’s last victim. I found it a bit unsettling (and confusing, as there was no note to explain) that the authors presumed to know this young man’s final thoughts and words.

The parts about Gacy’s interaction with his lawyers and his behavior are interesting.  I love true crime and legal thrillers, and this book satisfied both these parts of me.

Something Amirante writes repeatedly is that he 100 percent believes Gacy’s brain was broken, that Gacy did not know what he was doing was wrong. I wish the book would have made a better case on this. For example, the authors do not present what their rebuttal arguments (if any) would have been for some of the state’s claims/examples that Gacy was odd, but knew what he was doing was wrong.

Bottom line: Good book, worth reading, but does not go deeply enough to explain why Gacy was insane — IF he was — and how he could have done what he did.

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