WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A woman accused of giving her former boyfriend guns used in a shooting at a Kansas lawn equipment factory plans to mount a battered woman’s syndrome defense at her August trial.
The attorney for Sarah Jo Hopkins filed notice Wednesday saying he plans to introduce expert evidence related to her mental state. The defense is also seeking to suppress her statements.
Court documents state,
“Defendant’s mental state is relevant to the crimes charged, and expert testimony would assist the jury in determining her state of mind and whether she acted as she did because Cedric Ford [the shooter] threatened and abused her…”
The motion also states that Hopkins was evaluated by a doctor in March 2016 and that doctor concluded,
“… [The] Defendant suffered from PTSD and battered woman’s syndrome at the time of the alleged criminal offenses.”
The 28-year-old Newton woman has pleaded not guilty to transferring weapons to a prohibited person.
Prosecutors say she gave Cedric Ford an AK-47-type semi-automatic rifle and a .40-caliber handgun that he used in the Feb. 25 attack at Excel Industries in Hesston. Four people, including Ford, were killed and 14 others were injured.
Hopkins has told investigators that she gave him the guns because he had threatened her.
KSN spoke with legal analyst and defense attorney, Dan Monnat, about the defense.
“Battered woman’s syndrome typically refers to the psychological state of a woman who has suffered repeated, vicious, physical or psychological abuse,” said Monnat. “It is one aspect of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Monnat says the defense is most often introduced in a criminal case to “help the jury understand why an accused person might not be able to act as freely and voluntarily as the rest of us.”
Monnat also told KSN that, in general, for anyone to be convicted of a crime, the law requires a “guilty mental state.”
“If a person is coerced or compelled to commit a crime by physical threats or force, or psychological conditions, then by definition, they didn’t commit a crime because they had no guilty mind.”
Hopkins’ trial is scheduled for August 9.
KSN TV – By Brittany Glas