The case captured national headlines in 2009: the laid-off employee returned to his former workplace in downtown Orlando and opened fire. The alleged gunman, Jason Rodriguez, was held responsible for killing one person and injuring five others. Rodriguez was sentenced to life in prison. But that conviction is now being questioned because the jury in the case received improper instructions. A Florida appeals court recently reversed the conviction, according to multiple media reports including the Orlando Sentinel.
The judge in the original case did not share the most-up-to-date information about how hallucinations should or should not be considered. Defense attorneys are arguing that the correct information would have allowed the jury to make a more informed decision. The incorrect instructions may have confused them and made "not guilty by reason of insanity" a less likely outcome. The defense team at the time asserted that Rodriguez is insane and should not be found guilty. Though any mistakes in the instructions given to jurors is cause for concern, this case hinged on an insanity defense. The mistaken instructions were clearly related to judging the suspect's sanity so it is absolutely appropriate to have this case re-tried.