Murder suspect suffers 'mental disease, defect'
Danny Buchanan of Salem was acquitted April 16 in the shooting death of his father.
Circuit Judge John Dan Kemp, in a pretrial hearing at the Fulton County Courthouse, handed down the ruling, based on a forensic evaluation that determined Buchanan had no criminal intent in the shooting and suffered mental disease and defect. Kemp also ordered Buchanan, 37, to be placed in the custody of the Department of Human Services for continued mental evaluation and treatment through the Division of Mental Health Services.
Buchanan had been charged with first degree murder in the July 24, 2001, incident in which he allegedly shot his father, 65-year-old Jerry Buchanan, in the chest with a shotgun at the elder Buchanan's residence at Camp.
The younger Buchanan admitted to the shooting, according to the forensic evaluation report by Dr. Michael J. Simon, supervising forensic psychologist with the Arkansas State Hospital. But Simon concluded, "I could find no evidence of any rational motive for Mr. Buchanan's alleged criminal behavior. Thus, it is my opinion that Mr. Buchanan was not responsible for his behavior at the time of the alleged crime."
Simon also wrote, "It is my opinion that at the time of the alleged conduct the defendant did not have the capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct, and did not have the capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law."
Simon diagnosed Buchanan as suffering from schizophrenia, residual type. He concluded that Buchanan had, at the time of his evaluation, the capacity to understand the proceedings against him and to assist effectively in his own defense.
After the hearing Buchanan's attorney, Michael W. Loggains, said, "I feel it was an adequate disposition of the case for all parties concerned."
Simon's report stated that Buchanan had not been taking his psychotropic medication for several months prior to the shooting. Simon also wrote, "(Buchanan's) description of these events provides clear evidence that he was psychotic and that his thinking was extremely impaired. He related a variety of paranoid delusions such as his belief that his wife was a witch, that his wife was trying to poison him, that drug dealers were trying to harm him and his wife, that the mental health center was trying to 'set him up', and that his father was somehow involved in the mental health system's unfair treatment of him."