‘Zoloft Defense’ Cop’s Sentencing Continues (Months After His Suicide)

Anthony Orban, a former police detective convicted of kidnapping and raping a Dave and Buster’s waitress, committed suicide while awaiting sentencing in his cell last fall. Despite Orban’s death, lawyers are still trying to figure out what to do with him, so to speak.

Orban, 33, was found dead in his cell at the Central Detention Center in San Bernardino last October, having hanged himself. Orban’s case had been controversial, primarily catching headlines due to his “Zoloft defense.”

An Iraq War veteran, Orban claimed that he had no recollection of the abduction and rape and that the drug Zoloft had triggered suicidal and homicidal hallucinations in the days leading up to the attack.

He was convicted, but his sentencing hearing was delayed after his death until this summer so that the defense could look at cases which would support his claim that death ends the case.

Despite Orban’s suicide, the judge said that there are legal issues which have to be resolved. “Our system needs to close this case either through dismissal or sentencing,” she said on Friday.

Orban’s defense attorney suggested letting the conviction stand and taking the case off the calendar altogether, arguing that he did not wish to pursue a dismissal. But the judge wouldn’t allow it.

“The only reason he is not here is because he volunteered to take his own life,” the judge said. “The court does have jurisdiction to complete the sentencing. “

The defense argues that the court has lost the jurisdiction to sentence Orban simply because he is dead.

“There is no one to sentence, there is no one to order restitution to,” he said.

“I can’t comprehend how you can go ahead and sentence someone who is dead.”

But the sentencing is important to Orban’s victim, who was present at the hearing. “I’m a little disappointed that it got postponed again,” she said afterwards. “I really just want it to be over.”

What do you think of the Anthony Orban case? Can you sentence a dead man?

[Image via: corgarashu / Shutterstock]