Guilty verdict without traditional trial

Guilty verdict without traditional trial
PASCO, Wash. -- A Pasco man was found guilty of killing his roommate nearly two years ago. But the process to that guilty verdict is an odd one.

Rather than a trial, a stipulation of facts against Joseph Hart was given to a judge to make a quick decision.

His attorney Scott Johnson said, "If we would have proceeded with trial, I think there was a high probability that he would have been found not guilty by reason of insanity and so he would have gone to eastern which affords him less freedoms than the Department of Corrections."

Hart had been in an outpatient program for the mentally ill when he killed Rodger Lincoln. He was later found fit to stand trial.

Instead of a jury or bench trial, he chose a third option: asking a judge to decide if he was guilty based on the evidence. In a matter of hours, she decided he was.

Usually this method is only seen in drugs or weapons cases. The crime, evidence or facts aren't in question and the defendant doesn't enter a plea.

It's Hart's best chance of serving time in jail rather than a mental health facility. He still has his right to a trial.

Franklin County Prosecutor, Shawn Sant said, "Certainly it's legal. this isn't much different than a defendant exercising their right to plead guilty, you know that's a constitutional right, too."

This was Hart's third strike. He will be officially sentenced next week to either prison or a hospital to treat the mentally ill.