The Item (Sumter, S.C.) reports on the story, and on the fact that the man (Richard Clark) “was deemed not guilty by reason of insanity by 3rd Circuit Judge R. Ferrell Cothran.” State mental health authorities had concluded the man was insane, and the prosecutor agreed that “Clark burned the house down because he believed witches were in the home.”
I think this might well be a good case for an insanity verdict — but I’m rather troubled by the bottom-line result, which was to order Clark “committed to a state mental health facility for no more than 120 days.” It may well be that Clark isn’t morally culpable enough to be punished, but he also seems to be dangerous enough that he needs to be off the streets, and I don’t see why it’s likely that he’ll be cured in 120 days. What other witches might he run across after he’s released, and what is he likely to do to them? Or am I missing some treatment methods that are reliable enough to adequately protect Clark’s neighbors? Thanks to Abnormal Use for the pointer.