The man who murdered one woman and paralyzed another during a 2011 Atlanta shooting spree testified at his trial last week that he was motivated by beliefs he had acquired about white people when he was an anthropology major at the University of West Georgia.
Nkosi Thandiwe, 23, argued that the bizarre political views he encountered — and accepted — in college led to a mental state that should have been grounds for a defense of temporary insanity, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
“I was trying to prove a point that Europeans had colonized the world, and as a result of that, we see a lot of evil today,” Thandiwe testified. “In terms of slavery, it was something that needed to be answered for. I was trying to spread the message of making white people mend.”
Thandiwe explained in court that he had attended an event designed to address concerns about racial inequality the night before the shooting spree. He became furious when he saw two white people there.
“I was upset,” Thandiwe said. “I was still upset Friday. I took the gun to work because I was still upset from Thursday night.”
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly A. Lee agreed to allow Thandiwe’s public defender to file an insanity plea late in the trial, reports WSB-TV. Lee then ordered that Thandiwe receive an immediate mental evaluation.
The next day, the judge added “not guilty by reason of insanity” as a verdict option for the jury to consider.
Thandiwe’s novel defense gambit ultimately did not succeed. On Thursday, he was found guilty of killing 26-year-old Brittney Watts and paralyzing Lauren Garcia, then 24. He also injured Tiffany Ferenczy. The judge sentenced Thandiwe to life without parole plus 65 years in prison, notes WSB-TV.
“He told you he shot Brittney Watts, Lauren Garcia and Tiffany Ferenczy because he had adopted all these racist ideals,” Fulton County assistant district attorney Linda Dunikoski told the jury, referring to Thandiwe’s earlier testimony. “If race disorder was a [mental illness], then the Ku Klux Klan could murder and kill with impunity.”
His mother, Lynnae Francine Thandiwe, asked the judge to have mercy on her son.
“He’s not a monster,” she said, according to WSB. “It’s not consistent with who Nkosi is. Nothing can be gained by putting him in jail for the rest of his life.”
Lynnae Francine Thandiwe appears to be the same Lynnae Francine Thandiwe who is an Atlanta attorney specializing in consumer rights law and elder protection law. She received her law degree from the University of California, Berkeley, as well as a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.