A Clark County jury in January 2002 ruled that Alan Lee Berryman was not responsible for the murder of 35-year-old Keith Krieger by reason of insanity.
On Friday morning, attorneys for Berryman, now 44, asked Superior Court No. 1 Judge Vicki Carmichael to release the “Green Tree Mall shooter” from the custody of the Indiana Department of Health.
Krieger and his wife, Terri, had been at the Clarksville mall Nov. 3, 2001, and just finished their Christmas shopping. As the two were standing by their vehicle preparing to leave, Berryman approached them and reportedly said, “Your brother, the cop, set me up” and then shot Keith Krieger
Berryman then retreated to his home in New Albany, where police found his windows and ceiling covered in aluminum foil to keep the “radio waves from reaching his brain,” according to the Krieger family’s attorney, Larry Wilder.
Clark County Prosecutor Steve Stewart said an investigation revealed Krieger had no brother who was a police officer. Berryman later told investigators that he worked for the government and had been ordered to kill Krieger.
The two men only knew of each other in that both worked in the heating and air conditioning industry and had been at the same junket sponsored by a local HVAC supplier.
Berryman’s attorney, Bart Betteau, asserted mental illness as a defense at trial. The jury found Berryman not responsible by reason of insanity.
The prosecutor’s office filed for a civil commitment, and Berryman has remained hospitalized ever since, but his attorneys say his mental state has improved.
“His mental illness is basically in remission because of treatment,” his attorney, Bruce Brightwell, said. “Based on the hospital’s evaluation, he wouldn’t have killed anybody if it wasn’t for the mental illness.”
Brightwell said Berryman was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but he claims his client scores at the low end of all tests used to predict future violence. He said Berryman also has no incidents of violence or aggression in his eight years at the hospital.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office now represents the state in the case and opposes Berryman’s release, as does the prosecutor’s office.
“I don’t think Mr. Berryman has shown anyone he deserves to rub elbows with us while we’re shopping at the mall,” Stewart said.
He said a ruling by Judge Jerome Jacobi prior to trial allowed Berryman to not cooperate with the state’s psychiatrist. Because of that, Stewart said he had no experts to testify that Berryman was not legally insane.
Meanwhile, Berryman’s attorneys were able to produce experts to testify Berryman was insane at the time of the shooting. Stewart said common sense goes out the window whenever psychology is introduced in a criminal trial.
“The whole criminal justice system is turned on its head when it comes to psychology,” Stewart said. “It’s not an exact science, and anyone with a license can give an opinion. Curiously enough, whoever pays for the opinion gets the opinion they want.”