NEW YORK (AP) — A schizophrenic was sentenced Friday to life in prison without parole for hacking a psychotherapist to death with a meat cleaver, capping a criminal case confounded for years by questions about the attacker's mental health.
In a moving proceeding, David Tarloff described a constant battle in his mind and pleaded for mercy as he was sentenced on his first-degree murder conviction, a conclusion that came after repeated mistrials and findings that Tarloff was unfit for court.
He apologized to the victim's family and begged for as light a sentence as possible — 40 years to life — while describing 28 years of being tormented by what seemed to him like the voices of God and Satan. "I've never hurt a single person intentionally," Tarloff said. "I didn't want to do this, I swear to God ... but I thought all these bad things were going to happen."Tarloff was found legally sane (which is actually the norm when severely mentally ill people are tried for serious crimes), but it does not in any way indicate that he was not severely mentally ill. He planned his crime well in advance, and made efforts to evade detection after the crime, pretty well demonstrating that he knew what he was doing was wrong, the legal standard for sanity.
What a tragedy -- mostly for the victim and his family, secondarily for Tarloff, and then for the taxpayers of New York, who will pay for hold this guy in prison for the rest of his life. What would it have cost to provide him psychiatric care fifteen years ago?