Home / Entertainment / Sid Vicious raises insanity defense in murder trial in 1979

Sid Vicious raises insanity defense in murder trial in 1979


Friday, January 1, 2016, 12:00 PM


(Originally published by the Daily News on Jan. 3, 1979. This story was written by Robert Crane.)

Sid Vicious, the British punk rocker accused of murdering his girlfriend in their room at the Chelsea Hotel, raised the insanity defense against the charges yesterday, claiming “mental disease.”

Court papers filed by Boston attorney James Merberg disclosed yesterday that Vicious, 21, bass guitarist for the disbanded Sex Pistols, intends to offer “evidence of mental disease or defect excluding criminal responsibility” when the case goes to trial.

If that defense succeeds, Vicious could be found not guilty of the killing and still be committed for an indefinite period to state mental institution. If it fails and he is found guilty, he would face a term of 15 years to life.

The court papers marked the first time that Vicious, whose true name is John Simon Ritchie, had conceded by implication that he fatally stabbed Nancy Spungen, 20, on Oct. 11.

Vicious was arraigned in a second case yesterday. He pleaded not guilty to a charge that he thrust a broken beer mug into the face of Todd Smith, brother of rock star Patti Smith, in an altercation Dec. 7 at Hurrah’s discotheque at Broadway and 62d St.

Merberg, the attorney, said Vicious is pressing his insanity defense in the case even though he has not yet been examined by a psychiatrist.

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Entertainment – NY Daily News

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