Jury Finds Man Guilty, Not Insane, In Mother-Daughter Stabbing Case

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A man who stabbed a woman to death and wounded her mother, then claimed insanity, has been found guilty by a Cincinnati jury.

Sean Noakes, 41, has been diagnosed with severe depression and antisocial personality disorder, and has also told doctors that he heard voices and had hallucinations. He had also been released from a mental health facility just three weeks prior to the attack. Nevertheless, the jury decided that Noakes’s history of mental illness and drug abuse did not absolve him from the murder of Sharon Gette, 51.

Noakes attacked Gette and her mother, 72-year-old Barbara Rodgers, during a visit to their home. Rodgers testified during the five-day trial that Noakes had often visited the two women, to chat or to sell Gette cheap cigarettes. On June 9, 2008, however, he stayed so long that Rodgers got “antsy.” She offered him a bowl of chili, then sat down to read the newspaper; the next thing she knew, Noakes was stabbing her repeatedly.

When she called for her daughter, who had been sleeping in a bedroom, Noakes went after her. Although Rodgers was able to call 911 and summon help, Sharon Gette died of six stab wounds en route to the hospital. Noakes changed his shirt and tried to wash the blood off his arms, neck and legs, then went to a Longhorn steakhouse, where he was apprehended several hours later. When authorities arrested him, he asked how many murders he was being charged with, and then said that he didn’t know why he stabbed the women.

During the trial, psychiatrist called as a witness by the state said that Noakes should be held criminally responsible for his crime, and although defense attorneys called several mental health professionals to the stand, all of whom had treated Noakes, none said that he was insane when he attacked Gette and Rodgers.

Noakes’s attorneys had asked the court to find him not guilty by reason of insanity. He could have been found guilty but mentally ill, in which case he would have been certain to receive mental health care while in prison. Instead, the jury took just over an hour and a half to find Noakes guilty of murder and attempted murder, for which they recommended two consecutive life sentences. Ohio state law says that Noakes could be eligible for parole in 18 years. He will be sentenced in August.

 

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