This poll should have contained 3 choices, not just two, and that choice should have been ......"Both factors played a roll"
The love affair this country has with guns is a disgrace. That Merhige could go into two stores and purchase multiple guns with no one questioning his purchases is unbelievable. The fact of his long-time mental illness should have been available to the gun store employees and is the fault of the system. Families cannot always control the mentally ill. The system gives them short term treatment, sends them out into the streets with some pills, little or no supervision and they often end up living in the streets by choice, not taking the pills by choice and sadly living in desparate conditions. Families cannot force them to take the pills. I know. I've some experience with a family member who had mental issues. When they turn violent it becomes a societal problem. What can a parent, often less powerful physically than the mental patient, do? This is one of the most shameful aspects of American culture.
I can only speak as one who has a schizophrenic relative. I am not commenting on what this family did or did not do, since I don't know. I can only say that with a mentally ill person it is not so cut & dried to say, make sure they get treatment or proper health care. This horrible illness makes this near to impossible, especially when the person reaches adulthood. At this point many family members turn their backs. Others try to help, often enabling since they are not professionals and are too close to the situation and the family member can play or resent them. If you really care about preventing these tragedys, support professional residental programs where they can be monitored and given the proper medications (this is most important), take away the shame of illness where families hide them away and they don't get help, make sure laws support efforts to treat them, yes, even forcing injections at least until the person gets stable to realize drugs might help. Support research to find if genetic causes to mental illness to treate and possibly prevent their births. I don't know the true mental state of Merhige but I do know from personal observation that schizophrenics cause much harm to themselves, many die from bodies worn down from lack of care or medications or by suicide or other violent or accidental deaths. If you want families or the mentally ill to get help, the first step is to make sure help is available, and force it by law if no other means of persuasion works. The same issues exist for drug/alcohol addicts and abusers. The focus is on punishment, not prevention.
One of he saddest and most horrific days in Palm Beach County history. A little girl dies, twin sisters die, one of whom was pregnant and a family well aware of the mental health of the family member who committed these horrific acts. This family is scarred forever and there are those who would place blame on the system that this mentally ill man child was able to purchase weapons and ammo. I believe his parents failed him in the most meaningful way. They failed to act. They failed to use the system and their resources to have him medicated and treated. They knowingly invited this killer into their home on a holiday and did so out of love and caring no doubt. Did they know of his mental state? Of course they did and there is no denying it. His Bother in Law, husband of one of the twins and father of the unborn child said it best when he called him out and recited his life's failures. Yet his statement to Judge Marx spoke volumes about what this family knew about this killer. How sad for the Sittons, losing a brilliant child to this monster. Those who failed Merighe were those closest to him. Those who now want to see Merighe die by Lethal Injection and rail against the decision of State Attorney McAuliffe and his Assistants don't see the system as failing now. They respond to the emotion that they have for what Merighe has done. A person who is clearly mentally ill will die in prison and accepted this plea. Does the system believe now that Merighe is competent enough to make this plea ? I commend Judge Marx who knows better than anyone what the Sitton's went through when accepting this plea. I commend the Public Defender and the Prosecutors for acknowledging the fact that a Jury would have had no choice but to find him Not Guilty by reason of Mental defect and any reasonable person knows it. In the end, this failure by his family to have him treated throughout his life resulted in death, destruction and the enduring pain of all the victims and their families and survivors . Love is a wonderful thing and there is no doubt that Merighe was loves by his family. His deamons made them his victims and sadly their love and failure to get him the help he needed in life resulted in the tragedy of that day. God Bless the Sitton's and all the victims and survivors.