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Update: Man accused of killing girlfriend in College at Brockport dorm to use "extreme emotion" defense

Posted at: 02/13/2013 6:32 AM
Updated at: 02/13/2013 6:32 PM
By: Berkeley Brean

The lawyers for the young man accused of killing a College at Brockport freshman last year are using a tactic we haven't seen in a while. It's called extreme emotional defense.

Click here to read the jury instructions on Extreme Emotional Disturbance Defense

Clay Whittemore is charged with murder. He's accused of killing his former girlfriend Alexandra Kogut inside her dorm room last September.

Whittemore's family was in court to see him today. That's when we learned that defense lawyers filed a motion to alerting the court that they plan on using the extreme emotional defense. The defense says this is not an insanity defense.

Mark Curley, defense attorney: Extreme emotional defense is not, sometimes people confuse it with not guilty by reason of insanity. It doesn't mean we're presenting a defense that he was incapable, or was insane at the time. What we're saying is that he was under such emotional distress and disturbance that it's a mitigating factor. It's not a complete defense but it's a mitigating affirmative defense.
Berkeley Brean, reporter: Couldn't anyone say that in an instance of a homicide?
Curley: Well if they say it they should have pretty good evidence to back it up. It's not a claim we would put out there if we didn't think it wasn't well founded.
Brean: But most cases like this involve some kind of emotion if someone is accused of taking someone else's life.
Curley: It goes beyond the emotion of the moment that a normal person would experience in that situation. It's an extreme disturbance, an exceptional circumstance.
Brean: So what happened that lead to this extreme circumstance?
Curley: I don't want to comment on that at this point.

Whittemore will be interviewed by two sets of doctors including one hired by his defense team. His trial is set for September 30th.

Press play on the video player below to hear District Attorney Sandra Doorley's comments on the case

Ali O'Malley, of the domestic violence prevention group Safe Journey had this reaction to the defense strategy:

"It's appalling in this particular case that they're looking to reduce the sentence or try to find a way to get a reduced sentence. It's important he's held accountable. That's what's important."