School shootings are some of the most heinous and tragic events imaginable. Colombine didn’t start the phenomenon, but it did change the landscape-ever since then there seems to have been a spate of shootings, not just at schools, but at shopping malls, even in an Amish community in Pennsylvania. Colorado has seen its share since that fateful day in 1999, and everyone dreads hearing about another shooting on the news. Colorado criminal defense attorneys are no different; these sorts of cases are no fun to defend, to be sure.
A more recent shooting, in 2010, had what some consider to be an unsatisfactory result when the defendant, Bruco Strong Eagle Eastwood, was found not guilty by reason of insanity for his part in the wounding of two eighth graders at Deer Creek Middle School. Now, however, the courts have found Eastwood guilty of firearms violations, an offense which carries up to 1 ½ years in prison.
Here are the questions people will be asking, whether they are everyday citizens, or attorneys specialized in felony crimes. Is this sentence befitting the crime? If indeed Eastwood was competent to violate gun laws, was he competent to know what he was doing when he pulled the trigger? Should his sentence be more stiff?
On the other side of the coin, is this a disguised form of double-jeopardy? Should police and district attorneys be allowed to withhold charges just in case the first charge doesn’t stick, so they can have another go?
Still other questions: if Eastwood is indeed mentally incompetent, how will putting him in jail instead of a psychiatric facility do him any good at all?
If Eastwood is guilty-and it seems the courts have deemed him so-he should be incarcerated. The question at hand is, does the punishment fit the crime? This is a core aspect of our legal system, and one of which criminal law attorneys must always be aware.