Peterson Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Local News

A Bloomington man, accused of killing his parents, is found not guilty by reason of insanity

Brian Petersen was arrested back in July on murder charges, after police found his parents, Bruce and Nancy Peterson, stabbed in their home.

 Petersen’s bench trial only lasted about 30 minutes Monday afternoon, before Judge Robert Frietag ruled that Petersen is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Petersen waived his right to a jury trial at the beginning of the proceedings. Instead, both the defense and the state presented a “stipulation” to the judge, or a document containing all of the case’s agreed upon evidence. Neither the state, nor the defense, offered any further testimony.

The stipulation included evidence from the state that pointed to Petersen as the person that stabbed his parents on July 31. It also included a report from a psychiatrist, detailing Petersen’s mental health at the time of the murder.

Assistant State’s Attorney Brad Rigdon told reporters after the trial that the psychiatrist diagnosed Petersen with paranoid schizophrenia, and the condition escalated significantly last summer.

“That does indicate he was hearing some voices to help tell him what to do. But he was, essentially, very delusional and not in his right mind. He didn’t understand that what he was doing was murdering his parents in a way that was a crime. The quote that is contained within the stipulation was that he thought he was “saving them from the darkness,” he explained.

Rigdon said the trial went as his office had anticipated.

“We had belief in, as being an accurate opinion as to the defendant’s state of mind, which came to the expert opinion that he was not criminally responsible for his conduct,” he said, referring to the psychiatrist’s report.

At some point, down the road, Rigdon says it’s possible Petersen could be released.

“Because  he was found not guilty by reason of insanity, he won’t serve a prison sentence. He will be treated by the Department of Human Services for his mental illness,” he said.

Doctors will evaluate Peterson over the next 30 days and then decide a treatment course.

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