A Texas mother who tried to kill both of her young sons, one of whom in fact did die, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. There is some speculation that the alleged Ohio sniper's defense team will try to go that route. If I understand, there is a sense in which, in the punishment part of the trial, the judge goes "easier" on a defendant who is guilty by insanity rather than simply guilty. Does anybody know what the history behind this is? Have there been times or places where the punishment would be harsher for a criminally insane person, rather than easier? Is there much support in modern times for going the latter route? For instance, can a case be made that we should lock a sane murderer up for the remainder of his or her life, but we ought to put to death an insane murderer? Second question: When a defendant is found guilty, I am pretty sure that the defense attorney will sometimes make the case, during the punishment phase, that his client would not have done the act if he hadn't been drunk on liquor or high on some illegal narcotic. Is it ethically sensible for a judge to go easier on a guy because, in addition to doing whatever other crime he was found guilty of, he was also doing something unlawful at the same time in the way of being publicly intoxicated?