A juror from the panel that decided an insanity defense in a triple homicide case said Friday that jurors' intentions were clear — that Dan Popp should be held criminally responsible and go to prison, not a secure mental hospital.
Jerry Biggart, who served as jury foreman, spoke Friday, a day after the trial ended with confusion about the verdict forms and a judge's decision to withhold judgment.
To find a defendant not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, at least 10 jurors agree the defendant is both ill and that because of the illness, he "lacked the substantial capacity" to know his actions were wrong, or to act lawfully even when he realizes his action is wrong.
On the initial verdict form in Popp's case, the jury circled "Yes" as the answer to both questions: was he mentally ill, and did the illness prevent him knowing his actions were wrong, or from resisting them. The votes appeared to be 11-1 on the first issue and 10-2 on the second.
But after getting the verdicts Thursday afternoon, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Conen conferred with the lawyers instead of announcing them to the court. Later, he asked the jury to clarify its verdicts on some new forms, and in about five minutes the jury returned the new forms.
Now it was 11-1 that Popp was ill, but 10-2 that he nevertheless could have known the murders were wrong or stopped himself from killing the victims on March 6, 2016.
Biggart said he was in the dissent on the second point, that but the majority was clear all along that they wanted Popp to go to prison, not a hospital.
Popp's attorney, Christopher Hartley, plans to challenge the results. "I think the second verdict is null and void," he said. "My motion will be to accept the first verdict, and if that's not granted, I'll have to argue against the second."
Conen set a hearing on post-verdict motions for January. In the meantime, Popp remains jailed. If the jury's verdict stands, he would face mandatory life imprisonment. If found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, he would be committed indefinitely to a secure state mental hospital.