This is the 1999 case of B.J. Greiman, convicted of kidnapping and attempted murder, appealed for ineffective assistance of counsel, won a reversal in part at the district court level but then lost again here at the 8th circuit court of appeals.

Blair Justin Greiman, Appellee/Cross-Appellant, v. John A. Thalacker, Warden, Appellant/Cross-Appellee.
Nos. 98-2175/2261
181 F.3d 970

March 8, 1999, Submitted
June 25, 1999, Filed

Judge Morris Sheppard Arnold wrote the opinion of the court:

Blair Justin Greiman was convicted in Iowa state court for the kidnapping and attempted murder of a young woman and he was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. Although Mr. Greiman was only sixteen years old at the time of these crimes, the juvenile court waived jurisdiction and granted the state’s motion to try Mr. Greiman as an adult. At trial, Mr. Greiman’s defense was that he was either temporarily insane or lacked the capacity to form the relevant specific intent at the time that he committed these acts.

Mr. Greiman’s conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal, see State v. Greiman, 344 N.W.2d 249 (Iowa 1984), and his petition for state postconviction relief was ultimately denied, see Greiman v. State, 471 N.W.2d 811 (Iowa 1991). Mr. Greiman then petitioned for federal habeas relief under 28 U.S.C. § 2254, claiming that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel at the waiver hearing in juvenile court and at trial. The district court granted his petition with respect to the trial claim and denied it with respect to the juvenile court claim

Here in the 8th circuit on appeal, the Court upholds the conviction and sentence and reverses the part of the district court order that would have required a new trial. This 8th circuit court finds that no reasonable jury could believe the insanity defense presented. Explaining:

Mr. Greiman presented much evidence about his home life: His mother and father were very demanding (always wanting him to do his best) and often “emotionally unavailable,” and his father was frequently out of town. Mr. Greiman’s doctors also said that his mother often struck him with a horsewhip and that his father gave him conventional spankings. According to Mr. Greiman’s psychological experts, these stresses from his home environment combined with concerns at school to create serious psychological problems for Mr. Greiman. As evidence of these problems both experts cited Mr. Greiman’s growing preoccupation with ninja and other martial arts, weaponry, and wide open spaces such as Wyoming and Montana. Both experts also testified that Mr. Greiman’s mental illness eventually created an irresistible impulse to act violently.


One of Mr. Greiman’s psychological expert witnesses described this impulse as a “psychotic break” caused by Mr. Greiman’s borderline personality disorder, while the other expert testified that, while he was committing his crime, Mr. Greiman suffered from a mixed personality disorder, with paranoid and schizoid traits, and that this disorder made it practically inevitable that Mr. Greiman would eventually fall victim to an irresistible impulse to attack a woman (as a form of retaliation against his abusive mother). After becoming enraged by the victim’s glance, the story went, Mr. Greiman forced her into his car, drove to his parents’ home, tied and handcuffed the victim, and raped her. He then forced her back into his car and drove to a secluded spot where he stabbed her twice, dumped her into a ditch full of snow, and left her for dead.

The explanations of Mr. Greiman’s expert witnesses seem to us highly conjectural and were not supported by any case studies or other evidence that tended to establish their scientific reliability. We therefore do not hesitate to conclude that a jury of reasonable people would have rejected these explanations…