COMMENT: FUNCTIONAL MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING AND THE LAW TODAY: THE BRAIN IS RELIABLE AS A MITIGATING FACTOR, BUT UNRELIABLE AS AN AGGRAVATING FACTOR OR AS A METHOD OF LIE DETECTION. Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2013 The University of Baltimore Law Review
University of Baltimore Law Review

COMMENT: FUNCTIONAL MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING AND THE LAW TODAY: THE BRAIN IS RELIABLE AS A MITIGATING FACTOR, BUT UNRELIABLE AS AN AGGRAVATING FACTOR OR AS A METHOD OF LIE DETECTION.

Summer, 2013

University of Baltimore Law Review

42 U. Balt. L. Rev. 857

Author

Kristina E. Donahue*

Excerpt



I. INTRODUCTION
 
Charles Whitman was an exemplary individual; he was a husband and a son, an Eagle Scout, a scholarship student at the University of Texas, and he had just joined the United States Marine Corps. 1 Yet, on August 1, 1966, he brutally stabbed and murdered his wife and mother. 2 Later that day, he ascended the University of Texas Tower and gunned down forty-five people, committing what was then the largest simultaneous mass murder in American history. 3 In order to end the shooting spree, Austin police were forced to shoot and kill Whitman. 4 In total, Charles Whitman savagely killed sixteen people and wounded thirty-one others. 5 After this horrific event, investigators discovered a note written by Whitman in which he expressed confusion as to why he felt compelled to commit the murders and detailed the severe headaches and disturbing thoughts he had recently developed. 6 An autopsy revealed a brain tumor in the hypothalamus region of Whitman's brain, which was compressing and over-stimulating the amygdala. 7 Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has since revealed that over-stimulation of the amygdala results in uncontrollable violent behavior and the inability of an individual to understand and appreciate criminal behavior. 8 FMRI technology can help shed light on why individuals like Charles Whitman do what they do, and this raises the question of what role such evidence should play in the judicial system.

FMRI is a scientific technique used to image the brain's activity while an individual is ...
 
 
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