Lawyers representing the man accused of killing Seattle police Officer Timothy Brenton and wounding a second officer on Halloween night in 2009 plan to pursue an insanity defense.
Christopher Monfort’s lawyers have notified King County Superior Court that he will plead not guilty by reason of insanity. Monfort, 42, is facing the death penalty if he’s convicted of the ambush slaying of Brenton.
“With respect to the charges, Mr. Monfort, due to a mental disease or defect, was unable to determine right from wrong [at the time of the shooting],” Carl Luer, one of Monfort’s defense lawyers, said in an interview on Monday.
On Friday, Monfort’s defense team filed notice in King County Superior Court that their client is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.
The King County Prosecutor’s Office declined Monday to comment on the Monfort case.
Monfort is charged with aggravated murder in the fatal shooting of Officer Tim Brenton and attempted first-degree murder in the wounding of Britt Sweeney on Oct. 31, 2009.
Monfort is scheduled to be tried later this year. However, it wasn’t immediately clear whether the insanity defense will delay his trial.
Luer said that the insanity defense will allow prosecutors to have him examined either at Western State Hospital or by other mental health evaluators.
Criminal defendants who are found not guilty by reason of insanity are sent to the state mental hospital for treatment. While they can petition the courts for release if their mental health improves, the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) can also have them incarcerated in a state prison.
If the DSHS chief finds a person found not guilty by reason of insanity to be “an unacceptable safety risk” they can ask the Department of Corrections to board them; though they are still under the review of state mental health experts, said DSHS spokesman Thomas Shapley. This was done in December in the case of Isaac Zamora, who killed six people in Skagit County four years ago.