brainwashing defense

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brainwashing defense2016-12-15T13:33:48+00:00

brainwashing defense


Definition A legal argument introduced during the Washington DC sniper trial to explain the actions of underage Lee Boyd Malvo who pulled the trigger in several of the homicides in the October 2002 killing spree with John Allen Muhammad.

Comment Malvo’s lawyers argued that he was the victim of Muhammad’s intense discipline, indoctrination in a skewed version of Islam, and grandiose visions of the future; per the boy’s barristers, Malvo would have done whatever he was asked to by Muhammad without questioning or challenging the orders; the brainwashing led in turn to dissociative disorder, in which he killed without knowing whether it was right or wrong. 

Synonyms Indoctrination defence, insanity-by-brainwashing defense

References USN&WR 2003, 12/22/03, p52  

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