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Split personality defense wins out

Appeals court sends case back to county

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Scott North / Herald Writer

By Scott North
Herald Writer
A convicted sex offender from Everett convinced a federal appeals panel Tuesday he ought to get a second trial because jurors didn't know about his 24 different personalities, including the one he claims committed the crime. The 2-1 decision by the judges from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California means William Bergen Greene, 48, may be returning to Snohomish County for a new trial. Convicted of a half-dozen crimes ranging from sodomy to indecent liberties, Greene is now serving life in prison without release under Washington's "three strikes" law. "If you ask us, there is only one Mr. Greene, no matter how many names he chooses to call himself," Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Seth Fine said. Greene received the life sentence after he was convicted of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his female therapist in 1994. The woman has since become a strong advocate for his appeals. Greene contended he couldn't be held responsible because the crime was committed by one of his alter-personalities, a 4-year-old child named Tyrone. His attorney wanted to argue Green was innocent by reason of insanity and unable to form the intent to commit a crime. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe instead ruled testimony about Greene's multiple-personality diagnosis would not help jurors. The ruling was based, in part, because there was no consensus in the scientific community on how to determine the criminal culpability of a defendant's multiple personalities. Both Greene and his therapist were potential defense witnesses, but neither testified about their contention that Greene's alter-personality was in control. State and federal appellate courts have been wrestling with the issue since. Tuesday's ruling likely will be challenged, either before a larger 9th Circuit Court panel or in the U.S. Supreme Court, said Paul Weisser, an assistant state attorney general assigned to the case. The judges who sided with Greene on Tuesday stressed their ruling was a narrow one based on unique circumstances . "We do not hold that a defendant or a victim must be allowed to present any defense, not matter how bizarre or far-fetched," the judges wrote. Greene's case has attracted national attention, including a segment on a television news magazine in which he was filmed slipping in and out of different personalities. You can call Herald Writer Scott North at 425-339-3431
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