A Baton Rouge man who told police that God instructed him to kill himself before he intentionally plowed into a woman’s car on Siegen Lane at more than 90 mph last summer, killing her, was found not guilty by reason of insanity Friday.
State District Judge Bonnie Jackson ordered Jack Jordan, 19, to remain at the state mental hospital in Jackson until a hearing in October to determine whether his release into society would be a danger to others.
The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office did not object to the judge's finding.
Three doctors who evaluated Jordan determined he was not mentally competent when he rammed his speeding pickup into Stephanie Payne's idling vehicle at the intersection of Siegen Lane and Perkins Road on July 22, 2019.
Jordan's lead attorney, James Manasseh, said his client had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and had no criminal or mental health history beside mild depression in the lead-up to Payne's death.
"We still, just as we have since Day One, have prayed and grieved and expressed my client's family's sorrow to Miss Stephanie Payne's family," Manasseh said Friday after Jordan's court appearance. "This is a tragedy. Jack Jordan is not a criminal; he was sick, he was mentally ill and all doctors who've seen him have said that he could not comprehend the world the same way we comprehend the world."
Jackson agreed with the doctors and attorneys, saying in court Friday that it was clear that Jordan was suffering a severe mental episode and did not have the ability to differentiate right and wrong at the time of the incident.
Payne, 51, of Greenwell Springs, died in the crash. Jordan, who was 18 at the time of the incident, was charged with second-degree murder.
Jordan had pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.
Manasseh had said early on in the case that he believed Jordan suffered a psychotic break and was not in his right mind at the time of the crash. He elaborated Friday, saying that Jordan believed he was living through the rapture and that he was having hallucinations about God telling him he would be taken away from Earth.
"He did not know there was a person in that vehicle. ... This was the first psychotic episode of this young boy's life, nobody could've seen it coming," Manasseh said.
Payne was sitting in her stopped sport utility vehicle when Jordan's truck rammed into it at a speed of more than 90 mph, State Police said. Payne’s SUV was engulfed in flames.
The posted speed limit in the area is 45 mph.
An eyewitness account from the scene indicated Jordan's northbound pickup pushed Payne's vehicle at least 200 feet, completely through the Siegen and Perkins intersection.
Payne, a mother and wife, ran a motivational organization called "I’m Alive 2 Thrive” in honor of a daughter who died in 2016.
Jordan faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison if he had been convicted of second-degree murder.
Jordan is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 28 for a hearing where the three doctors that evaluated him will testify as to Jordan’s mental state and whether it’s appropriate for him to be discharged from state mental health care.