'Guilty, but mentally ill' pleas tossed

The Nevada Supreme Court took its ruling that the state's "guilty but mentally ill" plea is unconstitutional a step farther Friday.

The court ruled that defendants convicted under that plea are automatically entitled to withdraw the plea and proceed to trial.

Roy O'Guinn was charged with burglary, lewdness and sexually assaulting a victim older than 65. He pleaded guilty, but mentally ill and was sentenced as an habitual criminal to four life sentences.

Robert Rodney Presfield entered a similar plea to charges in the stabbing death of an Ely man and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Both appealed on grounds that their mental illness prevented them from understanding the consequences of their pleas.

The high court ordered both men be allowed to withdraw their pleas and go to trial if they wish.

"The statutory scheme under which appellants entered their pleas is unconstitutional and unenforceable," the opinion states.

The opinion was supported by all seven members of the court, including Justice Bill Maupin who originally disagreed with the decision abolishing the defense of legal insanity.


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