WTF

Turtleboy Topic Tuesday – How Much Does Mental Illness Excuse An Inexcusable Crime?

The talk of the town this weekend was 21-year-old Abigail “Abi” Hanna, the babysitter/psychopath who broke into a home at 3am with a weapon, kidnapped the 2-year-old girl she used to babysit, shaved her head, left cigarette burns all over her body, gave her a bruise the size of a softball on her skull, and capped it all off by leaving the toddler to die naked in pile of leaves freezing on the side of the road. Lovely!

 

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This apple looks delicious, I think I’ll kill it!

 

As usual – a scroll through Hanna’s facebook page reveals nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, she appears to be a pretty young girl, with tons of friends and hobbies. She is well-educated, well-traveled, she is newly engaged to her boyfriend, and looks to be intelligent, normal, and well-liked by all with a loving family. Much like the crazed Blackstone mother Erika Murray, by looking at her social media pages, it didn’t appear that anything was amiss. If you didn’t have intimate knowledge of the situation, by all accounts, you would have no idea that Miss Hanna would be the type to break into your house at 3am, steal your child and torture her.

 

11/23/2015 - Newburyport, MA - Newburyport District Court - Abigail Hanna, 21, of Topsfield, was arraigned Monday, November 23, 2015 at Newburyport District Court on charges with kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child, and breaking and entering in the nighttime. Hanna was ordered held without bail Monday and sent for a psychiatric evaluation, as a court clinician said she was hearing voices and suicidal. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/Pool

11/23/2015 – Newburyport, MA – Newburyport District Court – Abigail Hanna, 21, of Topsfield, was arraigned Monday, November 23, 2015 at Newburyport District Court on charges with kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a child, and breaking and entering in the nighttime. Hanna was ordered held without bail Monday and sent for a psychiatric evaluation, as a court clinician said she was hearing voices and suicidal. Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/Pool

 

However, in court today, we saw a very different picture of Miss Hanna. She was incoherent, unable to even stand up at certain times, and a court clinician testified that Hanna of Topsfield is experiencing psychotic symptoms including audio and visual hallucinations, has expressed suicidal thoughts and is currently not competent to stand trial. The suspect also has a history of suicide attempts, hallucinations and memory loss, Dr. Tammy Howe told the court.

“At this time Abigail is addressing serious and potentially life-threatening issues,” her lawyer Susan H. McNeil said in a statement. “These issues have clearly impacted her overall mental health. We are in the early stages of the process of trying to determine the facts of what occurred over the past several days. We’ve entered a plea of not guilty to further the process.”

Hanna was ordered sent to Worcester Recovery Center for further evaluation.

This begs the question: Should Abi Hanna be held responsible for this reprehensible crime? If so, how “accountable” is she? Since none of us know what is going on in her twisted mind, how can we evaluate what her motives were, and how “guilty” she really is?

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Another interesting point that is often brought up in mental illness cases – how difficult would it be to trick a clinical psychologist into thinking that you are severely mentally ill? Or at least more mentally disturbed than you actually are? If the evaluation period only lasts a few hours, would it be that hard to ramble incoherently and fool even the most seasoned psychiatrist ala Edward Norton in the movie “Primal Fear”? And what toll does it take on our society when we continue to excuse criminal behavior due to various mental illnesses in some cases, but not in others?

Now there is no denying that Abi Hanna must be experiencing some form of mental illness. There is no other plausible explanation to commit such a bizarre, motiveless, horrific crime. The problem is – how can we ever determine how severely she should be punished, when she is the only one that truly knows what’s going on in her brain.

As everyone knows, there’s a big difference between serving 20 years in jail, and 4 years in a psych ward for being found “not guilty by mental disease or defect”. If Abi Hanna does get sentenced to a mental institution, and a panel of psychiatrists eventually deems her fit to rejoin society, I would hate to see her lurking at the local playground around my children in a few years, wouldn’t you?

13 Comment(s)
  • M
    November 25, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Someone close to me committed a crime due to mental illness. It was nothing anywhere near the magnitude of what Abi Hanna did, but it was still a crime. We had long conversations with the lawyer and the judge about whether the mental illness made it an excusable offense. In the end, we all agreed that mental illness is a reason for the offense, but is not an excuse. The person served their time, takes their meds, and still harbors deep regret over the situation. We’re lucky that the victim saw her way to forgive, as well.

    Maybe the real question is this: is a mentally ill person who commits a crime a criminal, or simply mentally ill?

  • Dawn
    November 24, 2015 at 6:49 pm

    Being committed to a psych facility for prisoners is worse than jail.

    Maybe someone can look up the statistics of people who were found not guilty due to mental illness and how often they commit violent crimes again.

  • BlackandWhite
    November 24, 2015 at 5:27 pm

    Not making an excuse for this person, but …..

    Close to half of mental health disorders and illnesses begin by age 14 and 75% in early 20’s. If it’s a major disorder or illness, there were probably warning signs beforehand. If she lived at home, family members should have been aware.

  • Publius
    November 24, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    Looked it up. The place where large numbers of staff are assaulted, staffing and security are inadequate and patients who should be institutionalized for their own and the public’s safety are pushed out into the population. We need to bring back long term Asylums.

    • Skeptical
      November 27, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      So long as those asylums don’t include the bullshit legal abilities Nurse Ratchet had at her disposal, and so long as the torturous practices of mental hospitals in the past don’t re-emerge, that is actually an excellent compromise.

  • Publius
    November 24, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    What is the Worcester Recovery Center ?

    • StupidIsAsStupidDoes
      November 28, 2015 at 11:47 pm

      The new multi-million dollar replacement for Worcester State Hospital. It only has 150 beds, flat screen TVs, a hair salon, etc.

  • Kevin
    November 24, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    If it turns out that she has a brain tumor that legitimately interfered with her brain and decision making, I could give her a pass. Doing something because you’re just plain fucked in the head… Off to prison!!

    • Saturday Afternoon Running Back
      November 24, 2015 at 4:10 pm

      I believe a lot of people are going to be willing to give her a pass because of her looks.

  • TargetPractice
    November 24, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Lets burn her with cigarettes for a few hours and re -evaluate her mental health. Not guilty by mental defect is the stupidest fucking thing ever. Obviously anyone that rapes or abuses children has a serious fucking mental defect, so they should all be not guilty, right?

    I dont care if in her fucked up brain she believed the cigarette burns would save the child from the devil. Does that make it better than if she was getting off on burning the kid? NO!!! She is a sick fuck who needs to be in a box. Too bad this is liberal Massachusetts and her cute white ass will probably be running a state licensed day care in two years.

  • typical white person
    November 24, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    She’s a menace to herself and others. She needs to go away for a long time. Even if she is mentally ill and takes meds and functions fine on her meds, people with certain mental illnesses tend to go off their meds when they feel better. Possibly that’s what led to this awful crime. But she will do it again, I guarantee.

  • lolcow
    November 24, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    You know according to the law, after psychiatric treatment, she will have to stand trial and then serve her sentence right? She will not get off scot free, if her sentence is reduced it will be because of the gynocentric court system.

  • Steven Stover
    November 24, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    She’s seen more dick than a Jewish pediatrician.

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