A state appellate court panel has upheld a jury’s finding that a Los Angeles man who had been diagnosed as schizophrenic was sane when he shot and killed a Metro driver shortly after boarding a bus in West Hollywood nearly five years ago.
The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal Wednesday turned down the defense’s contention that the evidence compelled a finding that Anthony Craig Chambers was insane at the time of the May 20, 2012, shooting death of 51-year-old Alan Thomas.
The appellate court justices noted in a 33-page ruling that jurors “reasonably could conclude Chambers was capable of understanding that shooting Thomas was morally wrong.”
“We acknowledge that all three experts agreed Chambers suffered from severe mental illness at the time of the shooting. A person, however, may be mentally ill and yet not legally insane under California law,” the panel found.
The justices also rejected the defense’s challenge to Chambers’ 2015 sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Chambers was convicted in March 2014 of first-degree murder. Jurors also found true a special circumstance allegation of murder of a bus driver in the performance of his duties.
The first jury deadlocked on whether Chambers was sane or insane at the time of the crime. In February 2015, the second jury to hear the sanity phase portion of the trial found that Chambers was sane when he committed the crime.
Shortly after getting on the bus, Chambers pulled a shotgun out of a suitcase, approached the driver and shot him twice.
Chambers — who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia before the crime — said he shot the bus driver because a computer in his brain told him to do it, according to the appellate court panel’s opinion.
“He waited for the perfect time,” Deputy District Attorney Marna Miller said after the verdict, noting that the bus driver was pulling away from the curb and that Chambers had let two other buses, including one with a female driver, pass by before boarding the victim’s bus.
Chambers was detained after he was seen climbing out of a window of the bus on Santa Monica Boulevard west of La Cienega Boulevard.
–City News Service
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