Hospital shooting suspect claims insanity defense

Defense cites long history of mental illness

Hospital shooting suspect claims insanity defense
Hospital shooting suspect claims insanity defense

VIERA, Fla. – The Titusville man who prosecutors said walked into Parrish Medical Center and shot 88-year-old patient Cynthia Zingsheim and her caregiver, 36-year-old Carrie Rouzer, appeared before a judge Thursday in a pretrial hearing.

Following the shooting at 2 a.m. on July 17, 2016, David Owens was ruled incompetent to stand trial.

But in a reversal from the courts, the state attorney's office now says the 33-year-old will be prosecuted on his two charges of first-degree murder.

Owens is seeking an insanity defense.

"The defense has an expert that opines that Mr. Owens was legally insane at the time of the offense. The state's expert opines that Mr. Owens was not," a defense attorney said to the judge.

The defense said a drug test after the shooting showed Owens was on bath salts.

Judge Charles Crawford Thursday ruled that only a medical expert on that drug will be able to testify of its effects during trial.

"Everybody knows that bath salts makes you do things you otherwise wouldn't necesarrily do," Judge Crawford responded to a defense attorney.

Just a week before the shooting, prosecutors said Owens was Baker Acted, taken to the same hospital and later released to his mother.

The defense said Owens has a long history of mental illness and drug use, but prosecutors said that in his past experiences with law enforcement, Owens never acted the way he did the night of the shooting.

His trial could start as soon as March 26.

About the Author:

James joined News 6 in March 2016 as the Brevard County Reporter. His arrival was the realization of a three-year effort to return to the state where his career began. James is from Pittsburgh, PA and graduated from Penn State in 2009 with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.