A 38-year-old former Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy was convicted this week of eight serious felonies after a 2008 domestic violence-related incident involving his then wife and her lover. The Irvine man had worked for the LASD for 10 months before the incident, had claimed that he was not legally sane when he committed these crimes.

In 2008, according to prosecutors, the man convinced his then-31-year-old wife to let him meet her and her 23-year-old accused lover in the break room at her workplace so the three could talk. The talk turned violent, however, and the deputy allegedly locked the pair in the break room, where he forced them at knife point to remove their clothing, kicked them and punched them several times. Prosecutors claimed that the deputy then spent hours torturing his wife’s boyfriend, inflicting knife wounds to the man’s groin, attempting to sodomize him with the knife, urinating on both victims and slashing the man’s face.

After fleeing the scene and compelling his wife to accompany him, prosecutors claim, he raped and sodomized her, cut off her hair, and tried to make her slash her own face so she would be less attractive. At trial, the wife claimed that he had always been possessive and jealous, which is indeed common in domestic violence cases.

The wife escaped the couple’s home with their four children the next morning, driving herself to a hospital. The lover was found by a cleaning crew. He has no recollection of the events and, upon awakening at the hospital, assumed he had been in a car accident.

The former deputy asserted that he had been driven temporarily insane upon discovering his wife’s infidelity. Traditionally, “crimes of passion” by a husband confronted with a wife’s unfaithfulness have often resulted in acquittals, although with the rise of psychology at the turn of the last century — and due to the controversial nature of insanity pleas — states began to limit the applicability of the insanity defense in such cases.

In insanity plea cases in California, the defense first has to prove that the defendant has a mental disease or defect, and second that the disease or defect kept the defendant from understanding right from wrong or the nature of the criminal act.

In all criminal cases involving questions of intent, the defendant’s state of mind at the time of the alleged act is in question. Therefore, proof that the defendant was — even temporarily — incapable of understanding the wrongfulness of his actions is key to this defense.

It is unclear from the LA Times whether the ex-deputy’s public defender presented any evidence of a preexisting mental disease or defect, which is required. In any case, a Los Angeles County jury on Thursday decided not to believe him. He was convicted of eight violent felonies and faces a maximum of multiple life sentences in prison. He will be sentenced on July 13.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Jury: Ex-deputy sane when he tortured, assaulted wife, her lover,” Richard Winton, May 20, 2012