The Iowa Court of Appeals has ruled against a Coralville woman’s claim that the state’s law covering an insanity defense is unconstitutional.
Michelle Kehoe was convicted of first-degree murder, attempted murder and child endangerment resulting in serious injury after she took her seven and two-year-old boys to a pond in Jesup in October of 2008, slit their throats with a hunting knife, and then tried to commit suicide.
The suicide attempt was unsuccessful and Kehoe then went to a nearby home and called police. She said she was attacked and a man tried to kill her and her children. The two-year-old died, but the seven-year old boy survived. Kehoe was unsuccessful in using an insanity defense in her trial.
She appealed saying the legal standard for an insanity defense was unconstitutional and that her lawyer was ineffective by not raising the issue. The Appeals Court ruling says it is the primary function of the legislative branch to declare what the law shall be, and the court “should strike it down only with profound reluctance and only when it clearly falls outside the basic charter of government”.
The court says the insanity provision challenged in this case “clearly withstands scrutiny under this standard,” and it upheld Kehoe’s conviction on all the charges.
See the complete appeals court ruling here: Kehoe ruling PDF