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Mentally Ill Pinellas Teen Charged with First-Degree Murder

Eighteen-year-old Benjamin K. Bishop of Oldsmar was charged this weekend in Pinellas County with killing his mother and her boyfriend in their Oldsmar home. He faces two counts of first-degree murder. According to the sheriff's report, Bishop has a history of mental illness, addiction to bath salts and violence towards his mother.

Bishop reportedly returned home last month after 10 months in a rehabilitation center. He is accused of shooting Imari Shibata, his mother, and her boyfriend Kelley Allen with a sawed off 12-gauge shotgun. The sheriff's report suggests that Bishop fired a total of eight rounds, then called 911 and admitted to the shooting.

The sheriff told media that Bishop is unemployed and a diagnosed schizophrenic. He allegedly fought with his mother Saturday because she wanted him to take his medicine, get a job and start paying rent.

Law enforcement records indicate that Bishop tried to strangle his mother in July 2011. He was arrested at that time on charges of obstructing justice by tampering with a witness and domestic battery by strangulation. Bishop pleaded guilty to a reduced charge.

Bishop is being held without bail, pending resolution of the first-degree murder charges.

The court has appointed the public defender's office to represent Bishop. It is yet to be seen whether the defense will raise an insanity defense though it is surely a consideration, given Bishop's reported mental health history.

Despite the media attention that an insanity defense gets, it is not used all that often. Florida follows the so-called M'Naghten rule: Two conditions must be met for a person to be ruled legally insane such that they cannot be guilty of a crime: first, if he suffered at the time of his crime from a mental disease or defect; second, if he did not understand the nature of his act, or, if he did understand, did not know that it was wrong.

If a defendant is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he is committed to a state mental facility until doctors determine whether he is still a danger. If he is determined to still be dangerous, confinement would continue until his condition changed.

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  • Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

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