No break for mentally ill in mandatory sentences, court says

Being mentally ill will not get you a break under the mandatory five-year prison term for illegally possessing a firearm, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled today.

It decided the case of Lamont Terell Mayl, who was arrested in March 2012 while running down Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis with a BB gun and a stun gun. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years in prison.

At a pre-sentencing hearing,  “his probation officer, case manager, psychiatrist, and psychiatric nurse all testified that since his arrest, (Mayl’s) conditional release program — which required participation in a mental health program … and monthly medication injections — had been successful and that he would not pose a risk to public safety if given a probationary sentence that imposed requirements similar to his conditional release.” Mayl had an 18 year history of schizophrenia.

His attorney argued for a lighter sentence — probation — because the law allows judges to depart from sentencing guidelines. But today the Court of Appeals said the mandatory sentence cannot be ignored, even if a person is mentally ill.