Insanity Defense


13 Who Used Insanity Defense Remain Incarcerated
NANCY WEST Union Leader [Manchester NH] July 23, 1990



13 Who Used Insanity Defense Remain Incarcerated

CONCORD - A Pembroke man committed to the state mental hospital in 1977 for murdering his wife is living outside the facility under parole supervision, but most such patients are held without the freedom to leave the grounds unescorted, officials said.

Larry Overlock, 46, of Pembroke, who was committed Dec. 14, 1977, for the murder of his wife, Lois, by stabbing her in the head and body, is living in the community, but officials won't say where. Overlock is under the supervision of the Division of Parole and has to meet bi-weekly with his mental health counselor. Few of the people committed as innocent by reason of insanity have off-grounds privileges, according to information released Friday by the Department of Corrections.

The state has to petition the courts every two to five years to have them recommitted and must prove they are still mentally ill and dangerous or they must be released.

When corrections took over responsibility for the innocent-by-reason-of-insanity population five years ago, there were 19 people incarcerated. Six have since been released.

Changes in state laws and public attitudes make it unlikely the number will dramatically increase, according to Michael Brown, staff attorney for the Department of Corrections.

Since the 1970s, the pendulum has swung conservatively in New Hampshire in the courts, corrections and the law, to keep people committed on insanity pleas from early release and from having off-grounds privileges, Brown said.

The Ernest Therrien case also played a significant role in changing attitudes.

Therrien was convicted of murdering Helen Ring in her Concord home in 1985 after being conditionally released from the state mental hospital two years before.

Therrien had been in the forensic unit since being found innocent by reason of insanity in the 1976 killing of his 6-year-old cousin.

''I think that the commissioner has been very conservative in his approach to recommending off-ground privileges and the courts are more conservative also,'' Brown said.

The following is an update on the state's innocent-by-reason-of-insanity population provided by the Department of Corrections. The New Hampshire Hospital is a low security, open campus complex on Pleasant Street in Concord and the secure psychiatric unit is a tight-security facility at the state prison.

* William Daily, 41, sentenced Nov. 15, 1976 for second-degree murder. He is living at New Hampshire Hospital with 12 hours a week of escorted off-ground privileges.

* Harlan Robb, 46, of Lebanon, committed for second-degree murder on Dec. 20, 1973, is in the state prison minimum security unit and has off-grounds privileges only under escort of corrections officers.

* Roy Drew, 45, of Tamworth, was committed for second-degree murder on May 26, 1975. He lives in New Hampshire Hospital with escorted in-building privileges.

* Jeffrey P. Westcott, 57, of Haverhill, Mass., committed April 11, 1979 for the second-degree murder of his 3-year-old son. He is at the New Hampshire Hospital. The state will try to recommit him at a hearing in Concord tomorrow. He has one half-hour of unescorted privileges in building, plus unescorted to work on grounds and escorted off-ground privileges.

* James Crawford, 42, of Laconia, was committed for aggravated felonious sexual assault on July 9, 1980 and is at the secure psychiatric unit with no off-ground privileges.

* Richard Shute, 37, of Rochester, was sentenced May 2, 1989 for aggravated felonious sexual assault, felonious sexual assault and kidnapping. He is in the secure psychiatric unit with no off-ground privileges.

* Richard Indola, 33, no address available, was committed for first-degree assault on May 19, 1983. He is in the secure psychiatric unit with no off-grounds privileges.

* Lenny Hatch, 62, of Portsmouth, was committed for lewd and lacivious acts on Oct. 10, 1966 and is living in New Hampshire Hospital with escorted off-ground privileges.

* Wellington Webb, 53, of Milford, was committed for second-degree assault on Feb. 28, 1984 and is at the secure psychiatric unit with no off-grounds privileges.

* Milton Page, 48, of Melvin Village, was committed Sept. 28, 1987 for arson and is in the secure psychiatric unit with no off-ground privileges.

* David Mercier, 32, of Ward Hill, Mass., was committed for robbery on May 16, 1984 and now lives in a Manchester halfway house. He has a job and has three hours per week of unescorted off-grounds privileges in the Manchester area.

* Martin Cronin, 29, of Manchester was committed for attempted assault on June 11, 1986 and lives in the secure psychiatric unit with no off-ground privileges.

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