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A Crime of Insanity

A Crime of Insanity
Oct. 17, 2002
60 minutes

In December 1994, Ralph Tortorici, a twenty-six-year-old psychology student at the State University of New York, walked into a classroom, pulled out a hunting knife and a high-powered rifle, and announced that he was taking the class hostage. During a three-hour standoff with police negotiators, Tortorici--a paranoid schizophrenic who believed the government had implanted tracking devices in his body--demanded to speak to the president, the governor, and the Supreme Court. Shots were fired, leaving one student seriously wounded and Tortorici charged with aggravated assault, kidnapping, and attempted murder. That Ralph Tortorici was mentally ill was apparent to everyone. What was not so clear was how the courts should deal with his case. In "A Crime of Insanity," FRONTLINE examines the controversial case of Ralph Tortorici. Through interviews with Tortorici's family and the defense attorney, prosecutor, and judge charged with trying his case, the one-hour documentary explores the personal, political, and societal fallout that occurs when the legal and psychiatric worlds collide.

Producer(s): David Murdock
Miri Navasky
Karen O'Connor


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