Although justice may finally come for a teenage Tennessee girl who was viciously attacked by an extremely disturbed man in a Pennsylvania Target store back in March of 2013, but the verdict in the case read Thursday June 4th has many people “scratching” their heads.
The horribly vicious attack was caught on video surveillance cameras and shows the knife wielding Leon Walls, 44, snatching the unsuspecting Allison Meadows (age 16 at the time) and holding her hostage before heroic bystanders came to her rescue.
You can see that shortly after she was grabbed, one of her rescuers is seen removing his jacket and sneaking down an aisle, then sprints to the counter and leaps onto the back of her assailant, but it only further provoked the crazed man.
“That’s Superman came into action, that’s Superman,” Turner said while watching the video with Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 reporter Bob Hazen for the first time.
Although it was at this point that Walls began to repeatedly stab the young girl, but the rescue attempt continued as more bystanders gathered and subdued him until police arrived. Many of the rescuers received knife wounds as they tried to protect her.
“It was so sad,” Mike Turner, one of the rescuers told WTAE-TV, “To see him stabbing her and the other guys that got stabbed. It was sad to see.”
Meadows’ mother watched in horror as her daughter was grabbed near the checkout lanes and then stabbed several times before the two men, Turner and Roland Smith, took him down.
People are questioning the verdict though, as the jury renders their decision on Thursday, finding him guilty of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, but they also found him to be “mentally ill” which will allow him a lighter sentence, although his sentencing has not been handed down yet.
The jury found him guilty on some of the charges, but felt that it needed to be noted that he was definitely “mentally ill” which may allow him to slide on the other attacks on the bystanders, including the stab wounds to Jobe Wright, that occurred outside the Target store.
“Disappointing in some of the charges that didn’t stick involving the people who helped rescue Allison,”her father, Glen Meadows said.
Michael Turner expressed the same frustrations, “I wasn’t happy with it because all charges were dropped against the guys who put their lives on the line and they dropped all charges against him.”
Law Professor John Burkoff, from the University of Pittsburgh helped design the “guilty but mentally ill” statue decades ago, but stated that he had never seen a split verdict such as this one.
“This is a really weird verdict,” Burkoff said. “Here’s what the jury was saying: in respect to some of these charges, he was insane. But with respect to some of the other charges, he was not insane. But he was mentally ill.”
Of course the difference in terms is the important factor here, because he was found guilty, and will likely serve a prison term, but will also be entitled to mental health treatment during his incarceration.
“I think (the jury) was trying to give us this message: we know this guy is mentally ill and for a lot of what he did, we don’t think he should be held responsible,” Burkoff said. “But we do think he should be held responsible for some of this, and the most serious part to us, to the jury, what they would probably say is it’s all the hostage stuff.”
“It was the most gut-wrenching thing I’ve ever had to watch,” Allison’s father, Glen Meadows, said of the video.
This video is somewhat graphic and depicts the scene quite intently with no sound, but the emotions it evokes are quite intense. It makes me wish I was there to dispatch this guy with a “double dose of 220 grain lead poisoning”, end of story and less taxpayer dollars. It does give me hope for society as a whole, as you watch the bravery of the bystanders who threw caution to the wind, to save the life of this young lady.
Allison Meadows has recovered from the wounds to her back and arms, but I am most certain will live with the emotional scars of the incident for a very long time to come. Thankfully these brave souls stepped up and kept the outcome from being much worse.