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Arisztid's avatar

If Elizabeth Bathory was caught today, would she be declared criminally insane by an American court of law?

Asked by Arisztid (7113points) March 23rd, 2010

I know that in today’s America she could not have committed these crimes in the first place. For this question I am stipulating that she, indeed, was able to carry out her crimes and had done so.

She was one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Here is a short article about her. This is a much longer article about her.

Serial killers often try the insanity plea and, from what I know, they do not get it. However, from everything I have read about her, she fully believed everything attributed to her.

So, two questions in one:
1) if she committed her atrocities today, would she be deemed criminally insane in an American court of law?

2) if she was determined to be criminally insane, what would her punishment be today? Would the severity of her crimes cause her sentance to be a criminal one, rather than psychatric?

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20 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

Probably not, judging by the work of Dietz.

dpworkin's avatar

(Park Dietz, forensic pathologist, has helped convict many a psychopath)

ucme's avatar

I don’t know but it always amazes & amuses me in equal measure when serial killers claim diminished responsibilty on the grounds they are insane.If as is likely they are truly insane, surely they would have no comprehension of what their sentence would be.Then again someone has to line the lawyers pockets.

Arisztid's avatar

@dpworkin I looked up Park Dietz . While Dietz has helped convict many psychopaths, he is not the only game in town. There is no guarantee that he would be involved in the trial. Also, in such a high profile case, Bathory would, most certainly, have top end representation, including her own experts.

@ucme I find that entertaining as well. I do think that someone’s mental state can contribute to the crimes they commit but have to wonder about serial killers such as Bathory, Dalmer, and the others who commit their crimes over time.

Berserker's avatar

Even if she declared that she didn’t actually believe that the blood of virgins would maintain her youth and was, through psychological analysis, found to just get offa of it, I’m thinking she might be labelled with that tag, but she prolly wouldn’t get much of a different treatment than other murderers, aside from maximum security prison, that is, if people didn’t demand the death penalty if that’s available in your context.
(She did kill like, fucking 300 chicks.)

I mean sure she’d be on the news, might actually get a special cell of her own because of the severity of her crimes, but no matter the reason behind the actions, I doubt they’d send her in an asylum. She would most certainly be treated to plenty of psychological scrutiny however, if only to give the media something to drool over haha.

I might find an interview with her in my next Summum Girl magazine lol.

But yeah, she’d totally be locked up until the day she dies, wherever she was being kept…I guess kinda like what her actual punishment was.

ETpro's avatar

The definition of insanity for legal purposes is being so mentally deranged that you were unaware that your actions were wrong. Actions taken to conceal the commission of the crime, to cover up evidence, to get away with it—basically disproves the insanity pela. That is why it is rarely if ever successfully used in defense of a serial killer. One can’t get away with murder after murder over a significant period of time without going to great effort to cover up who is responsible for the crime.

Arisztid's avatar

@Symbeline The death toll they decided on was approximately 650.

From what I understand of the determination of criminally insane, if they are deemed that they are committed to a psychiatric institution for the criminally insane. If they are considered to have regained their minds, then they are sent to prison to serve their sentence.

Why do you think that, if she was decided to be criminally insane, they would forgo the mental institution?

I would be very interested in reading an interview with her.

@ETpro From what I understand of Bathory, she made no efforts to conceal her crimes. I have never read of her believing there was anything wrong with what she did.

In the hypthetical situation of this question, she was able to commit her crimes and was not caught until the death toll topped 600. In this question, she did commit the crimes exactly as history states, including not trying to hide the evidence, and is up for trial.

Berserker's avatar

@Arisztid In between 300 and 700 if I recall, but either way sall bad…but no, actually I’m not so sure about my answer…what happened to Charles Manson? I don’t quite recall. She might have followed a similar fate.

Arisztid's avatar

@Symbeline Charles Manson remains incarcerated despite repeated appeals. I do not remember if he had an insanity plea but, if he did, it did not work.

Seek's avatar

Big difference – Elizabeth Batory killed between 300 and 700 young women. Charles Manson never killed anyone. He’s in prison for life for conspiracy.

ETpro's avatar

@Arisztid I am not at all sure of that. The account says that members of her staff served as accomplices, but they did so under pain of torture and death. The bulk of her crimes occurred during the late 1500s. As royalty, her privilege and her castle walls helped her conceal the crimes, and she undoubtedly knew that. I think she would be easily convicted in today’s courts.

Arisztid's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr Very true.

@ETpro In my hypothesis, the crimes are committed exactly like they did in her life, which includes an environment where she did not have to hide her crimes. The mindset would be completely different than had she attempted to commit a crime. Also, torture was normal back then, usually for those who commit various crimes. Hence, it was expected and normal… if it is not taken to the extreme where it cannot be avoided and becomes an embarassment to the family.

Who knows how the need to hide her crimes would have affected her behaviour so there is no way to factor this in.

Mikelbf2000's avatar

almost certainly but she would be too dangerous to be allowed in free society but I would feel no pity for her if she were put to death in modern times. She was indeed an evil person.

Berserker's avatar

Was she evil or genuinely crazy? It was probably easier to get away with things back then, to a degree I mean, although the consequences if you were caught were much more dire than today…I’d be quite interested to see what psychological analisys would say about her today, if they could analize her in person.

Arisztid's avatar

@Mikelbf2000 I agree. I would feel no pity for her.

@Symbeline I will not use the word “evil” for many but that one I will. I am not religious so I have a hard time defining “evil” but she meets the criteria. Back then, torturing criminals was normal, brutality against the peasantry was part and parcel of the times, however, she was so extreme as to be an embarassment to her family.

Whether or not she was insane, she was definitely evil.

I would love to have it possible to do a psychological analysis on her today. It would be fascinating.

Berserker's avatar

@Arisztid Oh I’ll never argue that she was evil, whether evil exists or not, but you should read what her childhood was like and some of the things she had to witness.
Like being shown how to take care of a castle maid who disobeyed rules, or stole some food. Imagine if you’re six years old and you’re shown that disobedience is treated by sticking the person in the slit belly of a horse and then having someone sow up the horse’s belly and leave the maid inside to die. That among many other things.

So she was probably pretty fucked, but despite that she was an embarrassment to her family, some of her behaviour and cruelty is most certainly fashioned from her own culture which raised her.

That’s not to say I’m defending her though, far from it, I just keep wondering if she really believed the reasons she gave for her actions, or if it were something more ’‘realistic’’, at least to our modern society.
And well, considering this kinda thing…depending on wtf was wrong with her lol, she might not have done this in a modern age. (In which case that really would make her evil, as she would be aware of the consequences and all, as she may have been back then.)What do you think?

Mikelbf2000's avatar

You don’t have to be religious to believe that evil exist. Evil does exist. Hitler, Stalin, seriel killers, rapists, child rapist, etc those are evils

Auntie_Em's avatar

I started to read her story and…..ewwww…..couldn’t finish. It’s amazing what people find as an acceptable topic of conversation or is it entertainment? Hmm….don’t know. What in the world prompted this question. Seriously, are you a researcher or what?

Berserker's avatar

It’s precisely because history is often nasty that it shouldn’t be forgotten.

Arisztid's avatar

@Symbeline Her upbringing definitely contributed to her later life. She was taught to behave in ways that are difficult to comprehend today, was desensitized to the suffering of others, and was taught that servants and peasants were, basically, subhuman.

However, not all who were raised in such circumstances behaved as she did. It is the same as modern serial killers. Some of them came from very normal families, some come from completely fucked up families. There is something within them that causes them to go on to commit their crimes whereas the majority of people raised in abusive families/communities do not. I wonder if, eventually, we are going to find people who turn out this way to have measurable brain defects.

The question that I have always wondered about is if she actually believed what she said. Were they excuses or was that the truth?

@Mikelbf2000 I have always thought that “evil” is a religious concept, however, there really is no way to describe these people without using the word.

@Symbeline Exactly. Part of not forgetting history is to not forget the victims, to not let it be swept under the rug which happens all too often.

@Auntie_Em If you do not like topics such as this one, you might want to avoid opening my questions. I do not remember if I have asked other questions about the dark side of history but, if I have not, I shall eventually.

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