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Lewis case shows insanity defense requires time and patience

The case of a Will County man accused of murder could take a dramatic turn in September. Mark L. Lewis and his defense attorney are claiming using what is often referred to as the insanity defense. In September, the court will decide whether to acquit him or to move forward with his trial.

Pleading insanity is not as easy as television and movies would have us believe. There are two overlapping processes involved in the everyday (non-legalese) definition of insanity defense that, when combined, can go on for years. In January, we wrote about how the court determines if a defendant is unfit for trial (Understanding the insanity defense in Illinois). The Lewis case shows what happens next.

In June 2011, Lewis' sister was found dead in the townhouse she shared with their mother. A little over a month later, Lewis was arrested and charged with six counts of murder, one count of home invasion and one count of burglary.

In March 2013, the court found Lewis "mentally unfit to stand trial" and placed him in the custody of the Illinois Department of Human Services. He continues to receive treatment in a state facility.

The next step in the process is the discharge hearing scheduled for September. There, the court will decide whether the case ends or goes forward.

For the case to close, the judge would have to find Lewis either not guilty or not guilty by reason of insanity. Lewis would be acquitted.

Those aren't the only options, though. We'll explain more in our next post.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Sanity ruling due in 2011 killing of Naperville woman," Bill Bird, July 28, 2015

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