A South Carolina woman spent six days in the hospital for a severe mental illness, following which doctors told her husband to remove all guns from their house for the safety of the family.
One year later, Suzanne Simpson woke up in the early morning hours, put on a headband with a light attached, and ambushed her husband and their 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old-son while they slept with gunfire. The mentally ill woman said she also tried to kill herself but had loaded the incorrect ammunition.
When Simpson shared her reasons for massacring her whole family, she stated to her psychiatrist that she believed her whole family would be reincarnated in a better place.
On Thursday, following four days of testimony, the 38-year-old was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to life in prison, as U.S. News shares.
The defense argued that Simpson should be found not guilty by reasons of insanity or guilty but mentally ill. However, the jury rejected the defense’s argument. When sentenced, Simpson seemed to have little reaction to hearing she would be imprisoned for life and simply mouthed “bye” to her family as she walked out of the courtroom. Psychiatrists indicated that Simpson is on medication to treat bipolar disorder in addition to other conditions.
This case simply highlights the controversy that has arisen in the United States in regards to gun laws. The recent rejection by Congress to amend the laws requiring background checks before the purchase of firearms sparked outrage after so many cases of senseless violence.
The Associated Press makes a link between this case and one previous to it.
“The case is another example of guns and mental illness intersecting in a country that struggles with both. One month before the killings in this county of 120,000 people, the same prosecutors, defense lawyers and even psychologist were in the same courtroom. Susan Hendricks, a woman with multiple personalities, pleaded guilty but mentally ill and received a life sentence for killing her two adult sons, her ex-husband and her stepmother.”
During the earlier trial, prosecutors said Hendricks killed her family for $700,000 in life insurance, yet her own lawyer said she was “consumed” with mental illness that had been worsened through her childhood at the hands of her abusive parents. It is the same lawyer who represented Suzanne Simpson.
The defense attorney, John Mauldin, pleaded with the jury while defending Simpson.
“We’ve got to stop turning our back on mental illness,” he said during his closing arguments Thursday. “We’ve got to start somewhere.”
In May of 2013, Simpson shot at her husband six times, yet he survived and has to use a wheelchair. He has no short-term memory and suffered other brain damage. His wife shot at their daughter five times and their son four times. As investigators shared, all victims were wounded in the head.
Mike Simpson still has a bullet embedded in his brain and has very limited memories of his children due to the brain damage. His mother, Allison Simpson, spoke about how her son’s life has been tragically impacted.
“His whole family has been taken away from him,” she said as her son cried.
Prosecutors were also able to make a strong case that led to jurors believing that Simpson did know what she was doing even if she wasn’t able to control her actions. AP notes these indications shared by the prosecution.
“She wore the headlamp and loaded the gun in the laundry room to not wake anyone up. She shot her husband first so he couldn’t save the kids. And after loading the gun right, she managed to put in the wrong ammunition when it was time to kill herself.”
[Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images]