RICHMOND, Va. -- Friends and loved ones made their way to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond Monday to pay respects to Elizabeth Brown Pryor. Pryor, an award-winning author, historian and former U.S. diplomat, served a great deal of her career at the U.S. State Department. Brown was killed last week when her car was rear-ended by another car speeding on Grove Avenue.
The other driver, Robert Gentil, is charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to Pryor's death. Gentil's attorney and his family claimed the 32-year-old Richmond school teacher suffered a manic episode while driving, which caused him to speed on Grove Avenue that day.
"The question is, do you have a mental defect and does it create a state of mind that you don't understand the consequences of your actions? " WTVR CBS 6 News legal analyst Todd Stone explained.
Gentil reportedly told police he wanted to fly the day of the crash. Witnesses said they believed Gentil was driving in excess of 90 m.p.h. when he rammed the back of Pryor’s Audi. Gentil reportedly has a history of maniac episodes that have happened sporadically. He’s said to have had an episode five years ago and another one five years before the Grove Avenue crash.
His defense team believed he experienced another maniac episode the day Pryor was killed. Stone said that point is critical.
"They will be talking to a doctor about his sanity at the time of the offense and there's a special test for that," Stone explained.
Last week prosecutors and defense attorneys made their case as to why Gentil should or should not have been granted bond.
His attorney said they had trouble finding available psychiatric bed space. Gentil has since been released with several conditions. Gentil's attorney, Ted Bruns, confirmed Gentil is now in an area hospital. Stone said Gentil's mental health situation could greatly impact the outcome of this tragic case.
“If you've got a mental defect and it causes you to not understand what you're doing, then that's what a sanity defense is all about," Stone said. "Lawyers can’t create that.”
The judge imposed other conditions on Robert Gentil while he’s out on bond. He’s not allowed to drive and he had to surrender his license to the court. Gentil was also ordered to reside with his parents and wear an electronic monitor.