Defense attorney Daniel Segura (left) and Brendan O'Rourke. Photo by Bob Weatherston.
  • Defense attorney Daniel Segura (left) and Brendan O'Rourke. Photo by Bob Weatherston.
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Most jurors deliberating the sanity of a murder defendant are voting that he did understand right from wrong at the time of the shooting, according to statements made in court on March 15 by Daniel Segura, the public defender representing Brendan Liam O’Rourke.

The jury sent a note to the judge at the end of their first full day of deliberations, saying they feared they were “deadlocked” and unable to come to a unanimous decision. However, judge Aaron Katz polled each juror and found nine of them who were hopeful that further deliberations might be helpful, and so he ordered them all back to the courthouse on March 16 to resume their work.

This same jury found O’Rourke, 42, guilty on March 12 of the attempted murders of seven persons at an elementary school in Carlsbad. The jury deliberated less than an hour when they reached that conclusion. The shooting took place October 8, 2010.

Because O’Rourke is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, in this last part of the trial the burden has shifted onto the defense to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the defendant understood right from wrong at the time he was shooting his .357 Ruger revolver at children and an adult aide.

Three psychiatrists testified they believed O’Rourke was legally insane, and one psychiatrist said that although O’Rourke had mental illness, he was still capable of understanding that his act was morally and legally wrong.

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Comments

Visduh March 16, 2012 @ 12:37 p.m.

The "hired gun" shrinks had their say. The two hired by the defense predictably said he was bonkers. The third one, hired by the judge, agreed. The prosecution's shrink said he was sane. Now, today, Friday, March 16, the jury agreed and said he was sane. Hooray for a common sense Vista jury! (If the trial had been held in downtown SD, the outcome might likely have been different.) Dueling psychiatrists don't reflect much credit upon the medical profession. There are no real objective standards for this sort of thing. But look at the planning he did. If you can plan something like that, you are sane. That's why juries are still a bulwark against injustice. This crud will likely spend the rest of his life in prison. The penalty for attempted premeditated murder in this state is the same as that for being successful. He faces a wonderful incarceration in prisons where child abusers and child killers are at the bottom of the food chain. I was really concerned that this jury would hang and that it would have to be retried many times. Thank you Vista jury!

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