Mentally ill killers could avoid prison time

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - A Scottsdale woman is worried that the man who stabbed her father to death won’t finish up his life sentence in prison because the murder took place during a time when Arizona’s law didn’t include class one felonies under the Guilty Except Insane defense.

Laurinda Cumming remembers Jan. 20 like it was yesterday. It was the night her 83-year-old father, Vernon Cumming, was murdered.

“I walked around to see that my dad's throat had been slit ear to ear,“ she said.

According to the police report, Gray McCarthy lured Cumming's elderly father into the garage and stabbed him.

The report says McCarthy was “agitated” and “talking about random things” and even “catatonic” that night.

McCarthy’s attorney’s pleaded “guilty except insane” and the judge agreed McCarthy experienced a manic episode that night.

McCarthy was sentenced to life, but Cumming worries McCarthy will avoid fulfilling his sentence because in 2007 Arizona’s Guilty Except Insane statute mandated defendants who no longer need treatment complete their sentences in state prison. But for some reason, the Legislature didn’t list murders among the felonies affected.

“There was an effort at reforming the GEI statutes and initially it dealt with dangerous offenses, but it didn't encompass homicide convictions," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Homicides weren’t added back into the law until July 2010. Currently, there are three murder defendants in Maricopa County that fall into the three-year gap. Pima County has nine.