A veteran’s flashback defense doesn’t hold up in court - HISTORY
Year
1996

A veteran’s flashback defense doesn’t hold up in court

Seventy-six-year-old Richard Keech shoots his son-in-law, Nicholas Candy, to death outside his Long Beach, California, home. Candy, in the midst of a divorce and custody battle with Keech’s daughter Nancy, had arrived to pick up his son. As he staggered away down the street yelling, “Help me, help me,” Keech shot four additional bullets in his back. Candy died on a neighbor’s lawn.

The case captured national attention because Keech had a highly unusual defense-post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by being a prisoner of war during World War II. Richard Keech was a young Marine when the Japanese captured him at Corregidor in the Philippines. He spent more than 40 months as a POW in the South Pacific until the United States finally won the war. Enduring brutal treatment, Keech later returned home and established a stable life. He and his wife raised four children, including Nancy.

Nancy married Nicholas Candy, a rugby playing Brit, before giving birth to their son, Martin. However, the couple broke up when Martin was five months old, and a bitter custody battle ensued. The defense portrayed Candy as a man with a bad temper who began a reign of terror against the family. “I will be your worst nightmare,” Candy said in one telephone message. In December 1995, as the arguments over Martin intensified, Keech purchased a gun, which he later said was for protection against Candy.

On May 26, when Candy was informed Keech he couldn’t take Martin becausethe childwas running a fever, he and Keech got into a shouting match. After Keech shot Candy to death, he purportedly told a neighbor, “It’s over. He won’t be bothering anyone anymore.”

According to his defense, Keech fired the first shot in order to defend himself from Candy’s attack. The four subsequent shots were allegedly the result of a flashback. Keech testified that while he was shooting Candy, he thought he was back in the Japanese prisoner camps and was about to be beaten to death for hurting a guard.

The jury didn’t buy Keech’s defense; he was convicted of first-degree murder in 1997.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Chuck Berry records “Maybellene”

John Lennon once famously said that “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.'” That’s how foundational Berry’s contributions were to the music that changed America and the world beginning in the mid-1950s. Even more than Elvis Presley, who ...read more

Lindbergh lands in Paris

American pilot Charles A. Lindbergh lands at Le Bourget Field in Paris, successfully completing the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight and the first ever nonstop flight between New York to Paris. His single-engine monoplane, The Spirit of St. Louis, had lifted off from ...read more

American Red Cross founded

In Washington, D.C., humanitarians Clara Barton and Adolphus Solomons found the American National Red Cross, an organization established to provide humanitarian aid to victims of wars and natural disasters in congruence with the International Red Cross.Barton, born in ...read more

Second Moroccan Crisis

Six years after the First Moroccan Crisis, during which Kaiser Wilhelm’s sensational appearance in Morocco provoked international outrage and led to a strengthening of the bonds between Britain and France against Germany, French troops occupy the Moroccan city of Fez on May 21, ...read more

Nancy Lopez wins her first Coca-Cola Classic

On May 21, 1978, 21-year-old rookie golfer Nancy Lopez defeats her childhood hero, JoAnne Carner, on the first hole of a sudden death playoff to win the Coca-Cola-Classic in Jamesburg, New Jersey. The next year Lopez beat out 44-year-old Mickey Wright, again in a playoff, to ...read more

Garfield’s spine on display at museum

On this day in 2000, the bones of President James Garfield’s spine are on display for a final day as part of the Out of the Blue Closets exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. The exhibit featured medical oddities from the museum’s archives. The ...read more

Huge earthquake hits Chile

On this day in 1960, the first tremor of a series hits Valdivia, Chile. By the time they end, the quakes and their aftereffects kill 5,000 people and leave another 2 million homeless. Registering a magnitude of 7.6, the first earthquake was powerful and killed several people. ...read more

Long Island Lolita is arrested

Amy Fisher, the so-called “Long Island Lolita,” is arrested for shooting Mary Jo Buttafuoco on the front porch of her Massapequa, New York, home. Fisher, only 17 at the time of the shooting, was having an affair with 38-year-old Joey Buttafuoco, Mary Jo’s husband. The tawdry ...read more

Leopold and Loeb gain national attention

Fourteen-year-old Bobbie Franks is abducted from a Chicago, Illinois, street and killed in what later proves to be one of the most fascinating murders in American history. The killers, Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb, were extremely wealthy and intelligent teenagers whose sole ...read more

Gorbachev consolidates power

In an attempt to consolidate his own power and ease political and ethnic tensions in the Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev dismisses the Communist Party leaders in those two republics.Since coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev had faced ...read more