Shane Gore was insane when he killed his parents in West Fork in 2005, his attorney said. But deputy public defender Jerome Paddock chose not to risk his client’s life on the chance a jury would agree.
Gore, 38, pleaded guilty last week in Washington County Circuit Court to reduced charges of first-degree murder in the slayings of Don and Judy Gore.
With the plea, the schizophrenic with a long history of mental illness avoided the possibility of the death penalty that can be handed down for capital murder.
Paddock planned to show at trial that Gore was innocent by reason of insanity. The defense, which in Arkansas is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, hinges on whether the defendant knew right from wrong while committing the crime and whether he could obey the law.
Instead, prosecutors offered the plea bargain. Gore agreed to the deal and on July 31 was sentenced to 80 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
“Juries are reluctant to acquit by reason of insanity,” Paddock said. “I’ve been practicing 25 years and haven’t seen that happen in a murder case [locally ]. Juries tend to think it’ll mean the person will be immediately turned loose on society. That’s not the case.” Those acquitted by reason of mental defect or disease are ordered to the state Department of Human Services’ 911 program, under which they are treated at the State Hospital or by a community mental health provider. If found competent, they are released.
There are 452 people in the 911 program, 12 of whom have been acquitted of murder, according to the state Department of Human Services.
Paddock said Gore underwent treatment at the State Hospital several months this year before doctors found him competent in June to stand trial.
Given that Gore was restored to competency only through medication, Paddock believes his client was insane when he killed his parents on Oct. 13, 2005. At the time, Gore was skimping on prescribed psychotropic medication, Paddock said. Court records show he was taking the drugs Zyprexa and Klonopin in 2005. “Shane couldn’t afford his medication,” Paddock said. “He was cutting his pills in half because he couldn’t afford the whole pill. As long as Shane is on medication, he’s able to converse and rationalize. But without it, he’s delusional.” BROTHER ILL, TOO In 2004, Paddock represented Gore’s brother, Shawn Gore, who is serving 46 years in the Arkansas Department of Correction.
Shawn Gore, now 40, was convicted in Washington County Circuit Court of robbery, battery and methamphetamine possession. He, too, was diagnosed with schizophrenia but found competent to stand trial.
While representing Shawn Gore, Paddock met Don and Judy Gore. They were protective of both sons.
“Both their boys had psychological problems,” Paddock said. “As far as Don and Judy were concerned, Shane was the good son. He was good as long as he stayed on his medication.” Shane and Shawn Gore began showing signs of mental illness in their late teens, relatives told police.
In high school, Shane Gore was hearing voices and seeing visions of dragons, relatives said.
The brothers attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where Shawn Gore had a baseball scholarship. Shane Gore played high school football.
In 2001, Judy Gore fell ill and began kidney dialysis, then developed rheumatoid arthritis. Shane Gore took care of his mother when she couldn’t do things for herself, relatives told police. He worked sporadically for his father, who ran a poultry consultant business.
Don Gore had medical problems, too. He’d had heart bypass surgery and was fitted with a pacemaker in early 2005.
After Shawn Gore was convicted in 2004, Shane Gore lived with his parents in their family home at 16195 S. Arkansas 170 in West Fork.
In mid-2005, Judy Gore told friends Shane Gore was arguing with her and her husband over getting his own apartment.
Judy Gore was afraid that if he left home, he’d stop taking his medication and wind up in prison like his brother.
On Oct. 30, 2005, Judy and Don Gore were found fatally shot in their bedroom with their throats cut.
After the murders, Shane Gore took his parents’ van, withdrew $ 4, 000 from their bank account, on which he was a signatory, and drove to Las Vegas and then Phoenix.
He later turned up in a Mesa, Ariz., psychiatric hospital, where he was admitted by police after behaving strangely at a local motel.
Staff at the Mesa hospital told Washington County sheriff ’s deputies that Gore was delusional and rambling about “shotgunning two people in Arkansas,” documents state.
Days later, he told deputies he shot his father, 63, and his mother, 64, while they slept and “finished the job” with a filet knife from the kitchen. Gore gave deputies different reasons: His parents made him an “indentured servant;” his Indian blood made him kill; and Don Gore refused to let him move to Las Vegas and gamble for a living. “It’s turned out to be a beautiful ending for me because I’m feeling safe in safe hands,” Shane Gore told police on Nov. 11, 2005. “This is the right thing to be doing. Just to let you know, that I am a killer. I’m an outlaw and I got pushed beyond my limits.” LONG-TERM OUTLOOK Michael J. Simon, supervising forensic psychologist at the State Hospital, determined in June that Gore was severely mentally ill but legally responsible for his behavior.
Simon cited actions by Gore that showed he knew right from wrong before and during the murders.
He put a shotgun in his room the night before and planned how he’d kill his parents in the morning. He waited until school buses had left the area to make sure nobody heard gunshots. And he killed his parents just before they were to leave town on a business trip so it would be less likely they’d be missed, Simon wrote in the report.
While in prison, Paddock hopes Gore is separated from the general population and put in one of the special units for the mentally ill.
“I think he’ll have to be medicated all his life,” Paddock said.
Prison spokesman Dina Tyler said it’s up to Gore to take his medication voluntarily, but in rare cases the prison seeks a court order to force-medicate.
“We can’t just do it because we feel like it,” Tyler said. “It’s in cases of extreme management problems.” Shawn Gore is in the general population at the Cummins Unit near Pine Bluff.
Whether he’s taking his medication is private information, Tyler said.