United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division
H. THOMPSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Matthew Elliott Shashy fired three blasts of a shotgun into
the ground at a busy intersection at the entrance to Maxwell
Airforce Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Base employees were
manning a guard shack within sight and sound of where he
fired the weapon. He was indicted, and a jury found him
gulty, of forcibly impeding, intimidating, or interfering
with a member of the uniformed services while that person was
engaged in official duties, and doing so with a deadly and
dangerous weapon. See 18 U.S.C. § 111(a) &
to trial, Shashy filed notice pursuant to Federal Rule of
Criminal Procedure 12.2(b) that, without asserting an
insanity defense, he intended to introduce expert testimony
“relating to a mental condition of the defendant
bearing on the issue of guilt.” Notice (doc. no. 61).
Specifically, he wished to have a psychologist testify to her
opinion of his mental state at the time of the offense in an
effort to prove that his intent in firing the weapon was
other than the intent required for the offense. The
government opposed admission of the evidence. After hearing
the expert's proposed testimony outside the presence of
the jury, the court excluded the evidence because the
testimony did not negate the mens rea for the
offense and because its probative value was substantially
outweighed by the danger of confusing or misleading the jury.
The court issues this opinion to explain its reasoning more
sought to introduce expert testimony as to his mental state
at the time of the offense in order to show that his intent
was other than the intent required for conviction under the
statute. The statute under which he was charged, 18 U.S.C.
§ 111, provides in part:
"(a) In general.--Whoever--
(1) forcibly assaults, resists, opposes, impedes,
intimidates, or interferes with any person designated in
section 1114 of this title while engaged in or on account of
the performance of official duties; ...
shall, where the acts in violation of this section constitute
only simple assault, be fined under this title or imprisoned
not more than one year, or both. ...
"(b) Enhanced penalty.--Whoever, in the commission of
any acts described in subsection (a), uses a deadly or
dangerous weapon ... shall be fined under this title or
imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both."
parties agreed that § 111 is a general-intent crime.
See United States v. Ettinger, 344 F.3d 1149, 1155
(11th Cir. 2003). Therefore, § 111 “only requires
the knowing commission of the act.” Id. at
1158. Put another way, “[i]n order to incur criminal
liability under § 111, [Shashy] must ‘entertain
merely the criminal intent to do the acts' specified in
§ 111, to forcibly assault, resist, oppose, impede,
intimidate or interfere with a federal officer ‘while
engaged in or on account of the performance of official
duties.'” Id. at 1155 (quoting United
States v. Feola, 420 U.S. 671, 686 (1974)).
sought to introduce the testimony of a psychologist to show
that, in firing his weapon, his intent was not to forcibly
assault, resist, oppose, impede, intimate, or interfere with
the airbase's employees, but instead was to call
attention to the government's persecution of his family.
The psychologist would have attested that he suffered from
delusion of government persecution as a result of mental
illness, and that he genuinely believed that he needed to
call attention to the government's activity in order to
protect his family.
are two relevant situations in which expert psychological
evidence of the defendant's mental illness may be
admitted: when the defendant raises the insanity defense, and
when the defendant seeks to negate the mens rea the
government is required to prove as an element of the charged
insanity defense is an affirmative defense that presupposes
that the government can prove all elements of the offense
beyond a reasonable doubt, but relieves the defendant of
responsibility for the offense on account of his mental
illness. See United States v. Lawson, 459 F.Supp.2d
1192, 1195-96 (M.D. Ala. 2006) (Thompson, J.). Under the
Insanity Defense Reform Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. §§
17, 4241-4247, a defendant may be found not guilty by reason
of insanity only if, after the government proves all the
elements of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt,
the defendant proves by clear and convincing evidence ...