A thirty-four-year-old woman is facing attempted murder charges after barricading herself into a West Palm Beach motel room and firing shots at police officers. The woman was identified as Barbara Antell Walker who is now facing three counts of attempted murder. Investigators claim she fired one shot at the manager of the motel and two officers who were conducting a “welfare check”. SWAT was called to resolve the situation. The woman has since been taken into custody.
Will the Case be Successful?
Almost certainly not. If the police had been called to do a “welfare check” then we can safely assume that the woman was not in her right mind. A charge of first-degree attempted murder requires that an individual have a “guilty mind” or intend to harm. For all we know, the woman was so psychotic that she no longer understood what she was doing or thought that she was dreaming.
Police were called after Walker’s relative told dispatchers that he thought Walker might be held hostage. The relative said that Walker was handicapped. Officers arrived to the scene and announced their presence, but there was no answer. They had the motel manager attempt to open up the door. That’s when a single shot rang out. No one was injured. Six shell casings were found in the room including one lodged in the wall.
What Will Happen?
Defense attorneys for Walker will claim that she was not of sound mind when the incident occurred. A determination will be made as to whether or not she’s fit to stand trial. This requires the expert opinion of a psychiatrist, but the threshold for legal insanity is much higher than the threshold for psychiatric insanity. In this case, so long as she can understand the charges against her and participate in her own defense, she will be found fit to stand trial.
However, the charges could come down significantly if it is likely that Walker was experiencing a mental health event when the intervention occurred. Since they can’t prove that she had a “depraved” or “guilty” mind, the charges could be as low as reckless endangerment with a weapon. Without the intent to murder, attempted murder charges are not appropriate.
More likely than not, this case will be adjudicated to the mental health system where the penalties for crimes can actually be more severe than if they were prosecuted against fully healthy people. Those who have their cases remanded to forensic mental health wards don’t have sentences for a period of time, but their cases are vacated once a doctor is willing to sign off on their release. That may be shortly after trial, a decade from trial, or never.
Typically, however, the prosecution will attempt to plead down the case with lesser charges, ones that they may be able to prove. A defense attorney would attempt to secure a not-guilty verdict by reason of insanity during the trial.
Talk to a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’re facing serious charges, call the West Palm Beach criminal attorneys at The Skier Law Firm, P.A. to begin building your defense and protecting your future.