Prosecutors: Insanity Plea is Landmark Case

By: Jessica Zartler Email
By: Jessica Zartler Email

A Grand Junction man accused of murdering his son pleads not guilty by reason of insanity and Mesa County prosecutors say it's the first case of its kind in recent memory.

Allen Grabe is in the Mesa County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Wednesday morning he faced a judge and his attorneys entered a not guilty by reason of insanity plea on murder charges.

The district attorney tells 11 News in recent history there have only been two insanity pleas and both of those were for attempted murder.

This will be the first murder case like this for his office.

And although prosecutors say the case has moved relatively quickly, they say for now, the insanity plea will put the brakes on justice.

It was a dark September night when 911 dispatchers got a frantic call from Allen Grabe's wife.

When investigators arrived at the house, she told them her husband shot Jacob, their 13–year–old autistic son, while he was sleeping.

Now five months later, his attorneys say he's not guilty and is legally insane.

Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger says he's not surprised.

"I think any ordinary person who hears about the facts alleged in the case think there's some mental health issues going on but that's significantly different from being insane as a matter of criminal law," Hautzinger told 11 News on Wednesday.

And that area of law in Mesa County has been relatively untouched. The only similar cases were in 2006.

According to court records, Daniel Alexander pleaded not guilty by insanity in an attempted murder case for shooting at a cop. He was convicted and sentenced to 80 years.

In the same year, Troy Mondragon pleaded not guilty by insanity in an attempted murder case--the jury didn't agree.

He was sentenced to 40 years.

Hautzinger says that experience will play into prosecuting Grabe but until the accused murderer is tested by state psychiatrists, their work is on hold.

"There's not much we can do at this point but wait for the doctor's reports."

Grabe will be back in court on Friday. He will then be sent to the state hospital in Pueblo for an examination.

Prosecutors say the case will most likely go to trial and in insanity cases, they say it's a battle between experts and ultimately Grabe's fate would be up to the jury.

thanks jessica.. jessica zartler reporting live for us tonight..


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