In 1977, Ronny Zamora, a fifteen-year-old Costa Rican immigrant who lived in New York City with his mother and stepfather, was tried for the murder of his eighty-two-year-old neighbor. Apparently Zamora had shot the woman after she had discovered him robbing her home; he subsequently fled in the victim’s car. During Zamora’s trial, his lawyer offered a novel defense: He argued that Zamora should not be held responsible for his crime because he was the victim of a type of insanity that stemmed from being “under the influence of prolonged, intense, involuntary, subliminal television...
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