10 Uses of the Insanity Defense

Dan White
Happier times: Dan White and his wife Mary Ann jogging in San Francisco on Nov. 21, 1978, the year before he assassinated Moscone and Milk. © Bettmann/Corbis

Dan White assassinated San Francisco mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, America's first openly gay elected official, at City Hall in 1979. White was acting because the mayor refused to reinstate him to the Board of Supervisors after he resigned only one year into his position.

White pleaded diminished capacity. In court, his lawyers argued that White had been depressed and was unable to control his impulses at the time of the crime because his depression over his Board position had left the formerly health-conscious 32-year old on the couch watching TV and eating doughnuts, soda and Twinkies. You might know Dan White as the man who pleaded the "Twinkie Defense." The jury, however, found him guilty of voluntary manslaughter, and in the end, White served five years in state prison. White was released from prison in 1984, and in 1985 he committed suicide.