SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – McKeown is charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action, accused of running over and killing the victim, Barbara Foster.
The incident happened near the intersection of Sunshine and Campbell on November 20th, 2018.
The defense called its last two witnesses Thursday morning, testifying to the defense’s claims that McKeown was under the influence of cough syrup and suffered from mental health issues at the time of the crash.
Dr. Sarah Mielens, a clinical psychologist, told the court she had diagnosed McKeown with a ‘medication-induced bi-polar episode’ caused by a liver condition that can create extreme reactions to medication like cough syrup.
“The defendant was experiencing symptoms of a mental disease or defect such that she was unable to understand what she was doing and the consequences of that action,” Mielens told the jury. “[I perceived] symptoms of psychosis….so that includes hallucinations, seeing or hearing things that aren’t their delusions, meaning things that aren’t true or based on reality.”
Dr. Christina Pietz was next on the stand, testifying virtually to McKeown’s strange behavior in the hours before and after the crash.
After conducting interviews with McKeown several months after the incident, Dr. Pietz, a forensic psychologist, diagnosed her with an ‘unidentified schizophrenic spectrum disorder,’ which she likely suffered alongside the medication-induced episode.
“And you looked at the culmination of everything that was going on with her, not just one particular statement. This is a person who was psychotic and she was in a manic state at the time of the events. And her goal was to get to the bank to make the car payment. That’s the only thing she was thinking at that time,” Dr. Pietz testified. “Here we are four years later…This is a person whose thinking was tainted by her delusional thinking.”
Before breaking for lunch, the defense discussed off-record whether McKeown would take the stand to testify on her own behalf, but McKeown and her attorney ultimately decided against it.
Closing arguments and jury instructions are taking place after lunch.
As they enter deliberation, the 14-person jury will have to decide if McKeown was conscious of reality at the time of the crash, and through her actions, knowingly caused the death of Barbara Foster.
The jury has been told to find McKeown not guilty of first-degree murder if they believe the defense proved McKeown acted due to involuntary intoxication which deprived her of realizing the wrongfulness of conduct.
The jury has the option to instead find the defendant guilty of involuntary manslaughter and criminal negligence.
The jury will also have to decide whether McKeown is also guilty of armed criminal action.