It may seem like an unorthodox defense, but the devil has come up frequently in criminal trials in Texas where defendants have attempted to use Satan to explain away crimes.
The phenomenon was highlighted recently in an article in the Houston Chronicle. The writer pointed out blaming Satan for a crime does not work in Texas or elsewhere.
As recently as 2016, a defendant in Texas blamed the devil for the shooting of two teenagers, a crime that led to the death of one of them.
Kody Lott, 20, admitted to the killing of Lauren Landavazo, 13, in September 2016. Lott told police officers that he was frustrated that he was single and decided to shoot the teens after talking to the devil.
The crime occurred in Wichita Falls as Smith and Landavazo were walking home from their school.
Lott told officers he was also upset that the media called the incident senseless.
The defendant was charged with one count of possession of a prohibited weapon, a count of murder and one count of aggravated assault. His bail was set at $4 million.
In a column in the Huffington Post, Herb Silverman, founder and president of the Secular Coalition for America, coined Lotts’ reasoning the “Satan defense.”
“People accused of crimes have occasionally used a ‘Satan defense,’ blaming demonic possession for their actions. Some might even believe their own narrative, just as some people believe aliens have abducted them. And that reminds me of comedian Flip Wilson’s character, Geraldine, who always excused her bad behavior with ‘The Devil made me do it’.”
He urged people to take responsibility for their actions rather than blaming outside forces.
Unusual defenses of this nature seldom work, although there are some exceptions.
In 1978, Dan White faced the death penalties over the murder of Harvey Milk and May George Moscone of San Francisco.
White’s lawyers argued diminished capacity, given his bouts of depression. They claimed in the days before the killing he would eat only Twinkies. The attorneys argued the food showed his state of mind, and the jury acquitted him of murder, convicting him instead of voluntary manslaughter.
White was sentenced to eight years in prison and the so-called “Twinkie defense” was born.
Unusual defenses of this nature rarely work. If you are convicted of a serious crime like a homicide, you should hire an experienced Texas defense lawyer who will rely on strategies that work.