Kazuhiro Ohigashi, a Japanese man who has Asperger's syndrome, was convicted last year of killing his older sister:
From the fifth grade of elementary school and onward, Ohigashi refused to go to school and would refuse to leave the house. The court ruled that he somehow developed the idea that his older sister was to blame for his withdrawal, and over the years built up a deep anger towards her. When she came to visit his home one day in July of 2011, he attacked and stabbed her repeatedly with a kitchen knife. His mother, who usually lives with him, was at an institution on that unfortunate day.
The prosecution asked for a sixteen year sentence. Citing his Aspergers, Ohigashi's lawyers asked for a suspended term. The Osaka District Court gave him twenty years, the maximum sentence possible:
As his mother and other family members now refuse to live with him, and there were no other options for taking care of him, the court felt that it would be best to maintain social order by locking Ohigashi up for the longest term possible, in order to let him deepen his “soul-searching.”
There are several reasons why the case of Alex Sleigh concerns me:
1) The 18-year-old stabbed a lamb with a bayonet then attempted to cook and eat the animal while on a camping trip with a group of young people. The most worrying part is that he thought it would have more fun if the lamb had “put up more of a struggle.” He also appears to have an unusual interest in weapons and explosives.
2) He was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome after the event, and that diagnosis was part of his defense:
Andy Pilkington, defending, said: “They are concerning offences, to say the least.
“He has not done it with the intention of killing an animal for any sadistic purposes.”
Mr Pilkington said the offences were the catalyst for Sleigh, currently on a work placement in catering, being diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome.
He added it did not excuse his behaviour, but it could at least be understood.
3) The judge sentencing Sleigh said that his Asperger's syndrome might lead to "future criminality:"
Sentencing Sleigh, Judge Simon Newell, who had read medical reports from two psychiatrists, told him: “Both doctors take the view you are not a significant risk to the general public, but there are concerns as a result of Asperger’s as to your future and possible future criminality.”
One of the ways to establish a link between autism and crime is to diagnose people with autism after they have committed crimes as a way of establishing diminished capacity.
Obviously, this is part of why what Joe Scarborough said about believing that the Colorado shooter was on "the autism scale" are dangerous.
Teenager Shannon Davenport pretended to be a policewoman in order to steal from an autistic man she met at a train station. She took Ed Ho's ATM card, asked him to give her his PIN, and tried to use it 92 times, eventually stealing £556.69 pounds from him.
Prosector Richard Elliot explained how the scam began:
'He was spoken to by Miss Davenport,' he said. 'She told him she was a member of rail staff [for the British Transport Police] and she was able to use her pass to get half-price first class tickets for his journey,' said Mr Elliott.
'He declined. She then said because he had wasted her time a fine had been imposed of £20 pounds. He paid her the £20 pounds.'
According to the prosecution she continued to trick him and told him she required a further £20 and would need to take his card for forensic examination because of an alleged railway scam.
Although the judge said Davenport was guilty of "mean offences with deliberate targeting", he gave her a suspended sentence of six months and ordered her to do 120 hours of community service.
People with Asperger's syndrome are capable of good and evil, like everyone. I usually focus on the good, but here are some recent stories about aspies who got in trouble with the law.
Robert Gulla is on trial for killing his former girlfriend Allison Myrick:
Prosecutor Lisa McGovern alleges that Myrick was tortured by Gulla, her ex-boyfriend, in a fit of jealous anger after he found proof on her cellphone that she had been talking to other men.
Gulla repeatedly stabbed, beat, and shot Myrick between the eyes with a pellet gun and burned her with a cigarette, McGovern alleges.
John William Pfeil has been sentenced to ten months in jail for his role in a car accident that killed a 21-year-old man.
Bernard Morris will go to jail for putting cameras in the rooms of female students in the dorm where he was an RA:
Morris also pleaded guilty to setting a fire in a trash chute at a UTC dorm about two weeks before putting the cameras in the female dorms. He was monitoring the cameras on a laptop and a desktop computer. A UTC police officer said Morris told him he put out the cameras "for sexual gratification" while the female students were away from school on spring break.
Witnesses for Morris said he told them he did it because he was trying to get back at students he believed had moved things around in his room. He was an RA at UTC at the time and had access to the dorm rooms. UTC now has a policy of checking the criminal background of potential RAs.
There have been no arrests made following the 2007 death of Larry Ingraham's autistic brother Van at the Fairview Developmental Center in California, despite the suspicions a doctor relayed to Larry:
A neurosurgeon told him that Van had a broken neck and a crushed spinal cord.
"And he told me adamantly that he felt that this was done to Van," he says. "That it was not an accident."
Van died six days later.
Three outside medical experts raised alarm about the way Van died. One said his broken neck was likely a homicide.
But Fairview's staff maintained that Van's injuries were caused by a fall from his bed. A retired police officer, Larry blames himself for missing what he now suspects were earlier signs of abuse: broken bones, abrasions and a black eye.
"I should have known that something was going on. The signs were there," Larry says. "I was a cop, you know? I was his brother, and my job was to make sure that everything's OK."
Larry is still trying to get the Orange County District Attorney to investigate. The fact that no charges have been made in Van's death is not unusual-- out of hundreds of cases of abuse that have taken place at California homes for the the developmentally disabled, there have been only two criminal investigations that resulted in arrests since 2006.