Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., successfully defends man with ALS charged with double homicide

RELEASED: May 18, 2015


When it comes to a homicide trial the defense mounted in response to the charge is extremely important. Madison, Wisconsin criminal defense attorneys Jessa Nicholson recently successfully defended their client, who was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide, using an interesting defense. Experts are characterizing the outcome as “the first legal decision of its kind.”

The case involved a man diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis who was accused of killing his wife and sister-in-law. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, someone who has ALS will experience a progressive degeneration of motor neurons. This eventually leads to death following paralysis. During the trial Nicholson and Gansner asserted that as a result of ALS, their client developed a neurocognitive disorder that impaired his impulse control.

While historically ALS has been considered a disease that impacts the body but not the mind, more recently researchers are finding that around half of all who are diagnosed with the condition experience changes with their thinking or behavior. Approximately 10 percent suffer from a severe cognitive impairment called frontotemporal dementia.

Though Nicholson and Gansner did not assert that their client was suffering from FTD, the possibility that someone who has ALS could experience a cognitive deficit was the basis of the defense. The jury agreed with this premise and found the 40-year-old man not guilty due to mental disease.

About Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C.

Lawyers at the firm of Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., represent individuals charged with crimes in both state and federal courts. The firm handles a variety of misdemeanor and felony criminal charges in addition to homicide including sex crimes, drug charges, OUI charges and traffic violations. Because they consider themselves a boutique litigation and trial firm they aim to provide aggressive representation at trial to all they represent.

If you are facing a criminal charge the sooner you secure legal representation the better. To learn how a lawyer at Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., might help you, please contact them at 608-620-0018.

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