Insanity arguments pivotal in Grabe trial
In a case expected to hinge on the testimony of doctors, 53-year-old Allen Grabe’s fate will be decided by how the jury answers a two-pronged question.
Was he, under state law, “diseased or defective of the mind” in September 2008 when, as authorities allege, he fired nine shots at close range, killing his 13-year-old son as the boy was asleep in his bed?
And was the Pear Park father capable of discerning right from wrong at the time?
Jury selection starts Monday in Allen Grabe’s murder trial. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the death of his son, Jacob, an eighth-grader at Grand Mesa Middle School who had been treated for a neurological disorder similar to autism.
Jurors are expected to hear testimony suggesting Allen Grabe, who operated a window-washing business with clients up and down Main Street in Grand Junction and beyond, was under increasing financial stress after the loss of cleaning contracts in the fall of 2008.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Grabe entered his son’s bedroom the night of Sept. 11, 2008, opened fire, then stopped and told his wife, Jaquette, “I had to kill him because you were ruining him.”
Grabe returned to the boy’s room and fired more shots, the affidavit said.
Grabe told a doctor with the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo that he had pondered killing his son on two occasions in the weeks prior to the shooting, but he chose not to act, according to court filings. The admissions were made during one of the two rounds of sanity evaluations for Grabe, which were completed by state doctors.
Grabe maintains his son was being raised in a manner he didn’t agree with, and that his only two options were “to allow him to continue to be raised this way, or kill him and send him to heaven,” prosecutors wrote in summary of Grabe’s defense.
If Grabe is found insane by the jury, he will be committed to the care of doctors at the Pueblo hospital.
The trial is scheduled through April 9.
A Mesa County jury hasn’t returned a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity in at least five years, according to records with the Colorado State Judicial Branch.
Since 2005, insanity pleas have been offered in nine cases, not including Grabe’s, and all but two of them resulted in convictions or were resolved with plea agreements.
The other two cases involve one man, who is scheduled for a plea hearing next month.