Joshua Hoge, locked in a Washington State mental hospital since stabbing his mother and brother to death in 1999, wants to inherit part of his mother’s estate, reports the Seattle Times. It could be a windfall for the 37-year-old schizophrenic, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity. After Hoge killed his mother, Pamela Kissinger, her family won $800,000 in a suit against King County when it was determined that a public-health clinic failed to give Hoge his medication and was partially responsible for the slayings.
Hoge’s claim to that money is now poised to set legal precedent for interpretation of Washington’s Slayer Statute, the law that prohibits most killers from profiting off their victims. While some states have decided whether people found not guilty by reason of insanity can inherit the estates of their victims, Washington has not. “The legislature has made it very clear that they don’t want people who kill people to profit from it,” said Mark Leemon, who represents Hoge’s uncle, the executor of his sister’s estate. Kissinger’s family wants all the money to go to her third son in Oregon, who is also mentally ill and will need lifelong care. The Slayer Statute is designed to prevent those guilty of two key things – a “willful” and “unlawful” killing – from profiting from crimes. A person who accidentally hit a family member with a car wouldn’t necessarily be prevented from collecting life insurance because, although the killing could have been unlawful, the killer didn’t necessarily intend to do it.