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ADHD is no excuse

I generally do not see articles on the web that send me out of my chair with a loud epithet, but this blurb out of Florida did. Kmilyun has been blogging about personal responsibility (or lack thereof…) for well over a month and I’d love for her to get hold of this.

Here’s the story: Three “kids”, 2 of them age 18, one age 27, break into a home, bludgeon and stab six people to death along with their dog. Why? Because one of the victims discovered the ringleader, Troy Victorino, squatting in her grandmother’s home, called the police and had him removed. He allegedly recruited the two younger ones into revenge killings of everyone in her home.

The jury has found all three guilty on all counts. Here’s a good summary of the story.

I am against the death penalty, but I am also against stupid arguments to try and keep convicted criminals from taking responsibility for their crimes. Getting up in court and claiming that Michael Salas is somehow less responsible because he had ADHD and possibly also Fetal Alcohol Syndrome does a disservice to every person with ADHD. It implies that he could not figure out that stabbing and bludgeoning six people to death was a criminal act with serious consequences. Note: He was exonerated of any cruelty to the dog.

Worse yet, it devalues those of us who do have ADHD but clearly understand right from wrong and can certainly restrain the impulse to kill another human being. Here’s a news flash for Salas’ lawyer: ADHD impulsive acts tend to hurt the one who has ADHD, not the ones around them. It’s a lame argument and unfair to those of us who struggle with the REAL issues surrounding ADHD.

ADHD does not imply a lack of morals and ethics. It does not suggest a tendency toward violence (even Daniel Amen’s “Ring of Fire” ADHD classification tends to have anger directed inward, not outward). It does not justify senseless murder, no matter what. Ever.

Unfortunately this is the type of thing that happens in our courts when the stakes are this high. If the possible sentence were life in prison instead of the death penalty, I think the idiocy of the arguments might diminish. But if you’re arguing for a person’s life, you think you have to pull out all the stops. Sadly in this case it just makes the lawyer look like a buffoon and doesn’t buy any sympathy for the defendant. A better argument probably would have been the influence of the oldest perpetrator who clearly had a record of violence and bullying and probably did create an atmosphere of fear for the younger ones. But ADHD doesn’t equate to murder and Michael Salas will need to take responsibility for what he did.

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