Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Split panel of Court of Appeals overturns murder conviction based on after-acquired evidence of multiple personalities

In Orndorff v. Com., the Virginia Court of Appeals in an opinion by Judge Clements, joined by Judge with Chief Judge Fitzpatrick dissenting, overturned the appellant's first-degree murder conviction based on after-acquired evidence that she suffers from "dissociate identity disorder" and had at least "three different alter personalties:"

“The first,” according to Dr. Dell, “was a personality named Jacob who is apparently male and who was very
strong, forceful, given to speaking constantly with cuss words and who . . . [was] angry, confronting, challenging, tough.” According to Dr. Dell, Jacob was Orndorff’s “angry protector,” the alter personality that is usually “created in childhood” as a result of abuse and has “the job . . . of coming out and absorbing physical punishment that was more than the child could take.” The second alter personality encountered by Dr. Dell was “a character named Jean Bugineau,” who “insisted on speaking French.” The third alter personality was “a part” named “Janice Nanney” who was “twelve-and-a-half years old.”

Evidently, these other personalities did not start coming out in front of the doctors until after the guilt-phase of the criminal trial.

Chief Judge Fitzpatrick in her dissent agreed with the trial court that the appellant had not shown that this evidence could not with diligence have been discovered before the trial, and that the evidence was not such that there would have been a different outcome on the merits at another trial.

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