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High court to consider insanity issues in home invasion case

The Supreme Court of Virginia has agreed to consider whether an involuntary intoxication defense is equivalent to an insanity defense in the case of a man who tortured a McLean lawyer and his wife in their home.

Andrew Schmuhl contended he was in a “medication induced delirium” when he tormented attorney Leo Fisher and his wife in a Nov. 9, 2014, incident. The trial court barred the medication evidence because Schmuhl did not argue he was insane at the time. After a three-week trial, a Fairfax County jury convicted Schmuhl on seven charges. He was sentenced to two life terms plus 98 years.

On Sept. 11, the Court of Appeals of Virginia affirmed Schmuhl’s conviction. The appeals court said the only way to negate mens rea with evidence of a defendant’s mental state in Virginia is to plead an insanity defense.

The Supreme Court granted an appeal on June 18.

Schmuhl, represented by Bradley R. Haywood of the public defender’s office, says the Court of Appeals erred in finding that involuntary intoxication is insanity in all cases and is therefore governed by insanity statutes. The Supreme Court agreed to hear that issue and six other assignments of error.

Schmuhl’s wife, Alecia, pleaded guilty to helping Schmuhl in the home invasion and received a 45-year sentence. The attack on the Fisher home was reportedly prompted by Alecia Schmuhl’s firing at Fisher’s law firm.