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Joran van der Sloot: Crazy Like a Faux

It seems that Joran van der Sloot, having claimed, fruitlessly, that his detailed confession to the murder of Stephany Flores was a) coerced, b) improperly translated/misunderstood by his translator, is now going for c) an insanity defense.

It won't work.

Maximo Altez, Joran's lawyer, has stated that Joran is a sick fellow. Well, no argument there. But does his sickness, whatever that may be, constitute a defense?

No, it doesn't. From what I understand, Peruvian law does allow for an insanity defense, but, like the U.S. and other countries that follow English common law, maintains a very high bar for determining what constitutes legal insanity.

Legal insanity is very different from medical insanity. To put it simply, if you're convinced you're Napoleon Bonaparte, but you can understand the difference between right and wrong, and understand the consequences of your actions, you're legally sane. And there's your legal Waterloo, if you're a criminal defendant.

Did Joran understand the consequences of his act when he grabbed Stephany Flores by the neck and beat her, and then, when she was lying unconscious on the floor of his hotel room, suffocated her to ensure that she was dead? It certainly seems so. He left her body in the hotel room, asking the desk clerk not to wake "his girl" because she wanted to sleep, and then dyed his hair a hideous shade of orange and fled Peru. These do not, to me, appear to be the actions of someone who doesn't understand that he's just committed the worst of crimes. And don't forget that subsequent to murdering Stephany, Joran went to fetch himself a take-out breakfast of coffee and pastry or rolls, and sat munching and sipping while he contemplated the body and figured out his course of action.

Does Joran understand the difference between right and wrong? According to the psychological testing done on him by the Peruvian authorities, he's certainly capable of such understanding. I'm sure at some point in his life, someone taught him, or attempted to teach him, the difference between right and wrong.

But like most criminals, he probably doesn't believe that the rules apply to him. But he understands that the rules exist, and that most of us abide by them. And really, that's all that counts.

I'm willing to believe that Joran van der Sloot is very deeply disturbed. Or warped. Or, to use his lawyer's word, sick. But is he insane? Legally, he's not.
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