Robbin Trowbridge Benko is delighted that her son’s killer has a road map to freedom, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. After years of advocating for changes to Nevada’s insanity defense laws, a new measure that took effect this week is expected to result in court supervision of Michael Kane, 24, when he gets out of the state’s facility for mentally ill offenders. “This is going to make sure he is ready for society and society is ready for him,” Benko, 45, said from her home in Indiana. Kane was charged with murder for killing Benko’s son, 23-year-old John Trowbridge. In 2004, a jury found Kane not guilty by reason of insanity.
Nine months later, he almost gained freedom when doctors determined that he was no longer mentally ill as defined by state law. Benko tried to change the law, stirring media attention on “Good Morning America,” Court TV, CNN, and “The Early Show” on CBS. The law, called John’s Law after Benko’s son, provides the court with a way to release offenders like Kane by imposing conditions ranging from medication and counseling requirements to regular meetings with a court-designated supervisor. If the offender fails to comply with the conditions, a judge can recommit the defendant to the custody of the state mental health division. The American Civil Liberties Union believes the conditional release offered under the law is unconstitutional.