Grad to plead insanity in murder case

A lawyer for Kirk Palmer, a GW graduate accused in the shotgun slaying of an Angolan immigrant in August, is planning an insanity defense against a charge of first-degree murder.

Attorneys asked a Boulder, Co., judge on Dec. 30 to order Palmer off his medications so his sanity can be evaluated, the Associated Press reported. Palmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity Dec. 13.

Palmer, 25, is charged in the July 26 killing of Antonio Vieira, a former employee at Palmer’s Grassroots Hemp Store. According to The Daily Camera (Boulder), Palmer accused Vieira of sleeping with his girlfriend.

Prison psychiatrist Jean-Marc Wong testified in September that he diagnosed Palmer as psychotic, suicidal and possibly schizophrenic, according to the AP. Wong, however, opposed allowing Palmer to stop his medications, saying the accused would be a danger to himself and others without the proper medication.

Palmer was stopped by police with his girlfriend on July 26 in Alberta, Canada, and returned to Colorado to face the murder charge. His pickup truck was filled with clothes, camping equipment and other supplies.

Palmer, who graduated with a master’s degree in business administration from GW in May 2001, could face the death penalty if convicted. Since Colorado reinstated the death penalty in 1979, it has sentenced 10 individuals to death but only executed one convict.

Colorado law states that prosecutors must prove whether a murder meets at least one of 15 aggravating factors in order to pursue capital punishment. One of the aggravating factors includes whether the murder was committed in “an especially heinous, cruel or depraved manner.”

Registrar’s office officials said Palmer was registered as a student at GW from August 1999 to May 2001.

-Mosheh Oinounou and U-WIRE contributed to this report.

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