Gallagher found mentally ill when he murdered mother

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Michael Gallagher was found not guilty of murdering his mother by reason of mental illness, a Hennepin County District Court judge ruled this week.

District Court Judge Fred Karasov, in a decision filed Tuesday, said that at the time he killed his 89-year-old mother, Patricia, Gallagher was suffering from serious delusions, depression, suicidal thoughts and an overwhelming sense of guilt that his actions were harming other people.

“In this case, the defendant has proved by a preponderance of evidence that, due to his mental illness, he was able to know the nature of the acts he committed, but defendant was unable to understand his acts were wrong,” Judge Karasov wrote.

As a result of Judge Karasov’s ruling, Gallagher will go through the civil commitment process, where he will be assigned to one of the state’s secure mental hospitals.

Last week, Gallagher pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the Dec. 18 death of his mother in her downtown Minneapolis apartment. After the guilty plea, the prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed to try the mental illness defense on a stipulated evidence case before the judge. Both sides agreed that Judge Karasov could make his decision based on the psychological evaluation done last month by a court psychologist.

Relying on medical records and an interview with Gallagher, the psychologist said Gallagher’s mental state started to seriously decline in the months before the murder. In particular, Gallagher became obsessed with what he believed was a bed bug infestation in his mother’s apartment. He wrote a letter to his mother’s landlord about the bed bugs and Gallagher’s belief that Gallagher had contaminated the Twin Cities water supply with a bug pesticide, Judge Karasov wrote.   

Judge's findings (PDF)