The Medlin Law Firm

Mental Health and Race Were Factors in University of Texas Stabbing

Mental health and race can be factors behind a tragedy like the recent University of Texas stabbings.

The killing of Harrison Brown at UT in Austin occurred just weeks after the one-year anniversary of the killing of Haruka Weiser, reported the Dallas Morning News.

Harrison Brown was stabbed in the chest with a hunting knife on the campus in May. Other students were stabbed. Kendrex White, 21, was charged with murder after the fatal stabbing of Brown.

Haruka Weiser’s body was found in Waller Creek on campus on April 5, 2016. According to investigators, she was headed home from dance practice when her attacker struck. An autopsy report found she was sexually assaulted and strangled.

mental health and race were factors in UT stabbing

Mental health and race were factors in UT stabbing

Three days the discovery of Weiser’s body, Meechaiel Criner, 18, was arrested in connection to her death and charged with capital murder.

The Dallas Morning News story highlighted similarities in profiles of those accused of the killings. It said the alleged killers were both black and struggled with mental illness.

The article said defendants like Criner and White are increasingly likely to have a history of mental illness and suffer trauma from childhood abuse. Figures from the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights found more than half of inmates meet the criteria for mental illness, but few receive mental health treatment while they are behind bars.

A growing body of research lists the following risk factors to mental health and the likelihood of committing a crime.

  • Education
  • Income
  • Discrimination

The World Health Organization says the risk factors for many common mental illnesses are strongly associated with social inequalities.

The more marked the inequality, the higher the risk. The risk factors include chronic stress and discrimination. The mere fact of being black is risk factor, the study suggests.

The Dallas Morning News article referred to racist tensions in Texas. After the UT stabbing on May 1, a racist flier surfaced on the campus.

On April 29, a 15-year-old African American boy was shot dead in Balch Springs by a police officer as he left a party.

Race may be becoming a more significant factor in crime. A recent report on U.S. News found interracial homicides – defined as the killing of blacks by whites and whites by blacks climbed to their highest level in eight years in late 2016.

If you have been charged with a crime factors like mental health, poverty and race can be underlying factors. An experienced Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer can highlight these factors in a subsequent trial. Call us for a free consultation at (817) 422-0589.


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