Commonwealth v. MullerAnnotate this Case
During an armed home invasion at a Dudley apartment, Muller and an accomplice, who subsequently pleaded guilty, shot and killed two occupants and critically wounded a third. Muller was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree, on the theories of deliberate premeditation and felony-murder, armed assault with intent to murder, armed home invasion and unlawful possession of a firearm. At trial, Muller admitted that he had shot the victims; his primary defense was that he lacked criminal responsibility because of mental illness and cocaine addiction. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. While the jury instructions were erroneous in failing to clarify that the voluntary consumption of drugs or alcohol does not preclude the defense of lack of criminal responsibility where the mental disease or defect, standing alone, causes the defendant to lose the substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, the error did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice. Although the instruction regarding the inference of sanity was error, the judge ameliorated the error where he specifically instructed the jury that they did not have to draw such an inference, especially in light of the jury's view of the expert medical testimony.