James Donegan found not guilty by reason of mental disease

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- James Donegan, the man accused of stabbing and strangling 45-year-old Teresa Boone at Kilbourn Reservoir Park in September 2012,  was found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect Monday, June 3rd. Donegan will be committed to institutional care for life.

Donegan, the son of Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Thomas Donegan, was accused of stabbing Teresa Boone to death Sunday night, September 2nd during an attempted robbery. The incident took place at Kilbourn Park in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood.

Donegan changed his plea to no contest on Wednesday, May 22nd to a charge of first-degree intentional homicide. A second charge of armed robbery with use of force was dismissed.

On Monday, June 3rd, both the prosecution and defense wanted the same verdict for Donegan -- not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. Three experts took the stand. Their conclusions about Donegan were remarkably similar.

"Mr. Donegan, as a result of symptoms of a mental disease, was rendered to lack substantial capacity to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct," said Deborah Collins, a psychologist.

"Mr. Donegan did have a substantial mental disease at the time of the alleged offenses," said forensic psychiatrist Robert Rawski.

The expert witnesses say the stabbing and strangling of Boone last September was the result of Donegan's delusions. Each of them testified that Donegan thought of himself as a holy warrior or savior.

"He was prepared to defend himself in what he believed to be this grand battle of religious and delusional proportions in order to save himself, and also to save others, the world," said Rawski.

"This regarded a religious war that he thought was going to happen between heaven and hell or angels against demons," said forensic psychiatrist Brad Smith.

The experts all believe Donegan suffers from paranoid schizophrenia. They hope his rehabilitation brings him closer to reality.

Because Donegan is considered a patient and not an inmate, he will eventually have a chance to ask for his condition release. However, he'll have to pass an examination for that to happen.

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