STATE OF NEW JERSEY v. BOYCE SINGLETON, JR. A-1782-08T4 02-28-11
At trial, defendant did not dispute shooting and stabbing the victim to death but instead asserted an insanity defense. Defendant testified and presented other evidence to suggest his murderous actions were brought about by a delusional deific command. In appealing his conviction, defendant argued that the jury instructions were incomplete. Even though defendant did not make this argument until he filed a post-trial motion, the court reversed and remanded for a new trial because the absence of the amplified instruction required in these circumstances by State v. Worlock, 117 N.J. 596 (1990), and State v. Winder, 200 N.J. 231 (2009), was capable of producing an unjust result. In such an instance, a judge must instruct that a defendant may not be held responsible -- even if he understands his actions are contrary to law -- where a delusional deific command could be objectively recognized to confound his understanding of the difference between lawful behavior and a moral imperative.