Trials: Redefining Insanity

The jittery, harmless-looking little man in steel-rimmed spectacles was accused of murder, and he had long since confessed. Now, after four days of testimony and five hours of deliberation, the jurors had reached a verdict. They found the defendant, Howard Pierson, 49, not guilty by reason of insanity.

Thus last week in Austin, Texas, ended a murder trial that had been delayed for 28 years while the State of Texas waited, with inexhaustible patience, for Howard Pierson to recover his reason.

Pierson's belated acquittal was likely to contribute to a legal controversy that has raged for more than a century: What...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!