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Literature Study GuidesIn Cold BloodThe Corner Part 4 Summary

In Cold Blood | Study Guide

Truman Capote

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In Cold Blood | The Corner (Part 4) | Summary



Smith and Hickock are on death row—the "Corner" that gives its name to the last part of the novel—at Kansas State Penitentiary along with three other men, including Lowell Lee Andrews. Two years before, the 18-year-old Andrews killed his parents and sister without remorse. Psychiatrists examined Andrews before his trial and diagnosed him as schizophrenic. At trial, he pleaded "innocent by reason of insanity." His lawyers tried to get the court to replace the M'Naghten Rule with the Durham Rule, which held "an accused is not criminally responsible if his unlawful act is the produce of a mental disease or mental defect." But the judge upheld the M'Naghten Rule. Lowell Lee Andrews was found guilty and sentenced to death.


Capote shows through the example of Lowell Lee Andrews that the insanity plea is controversial and difficult to prove. Even if Dick Hickock had organic brain damage (affecting his impulse control), proving such damage to his brain would have been a challenge. Modern readers might reflect on the fact that MRI scans were not invented until 1977. Perry Smith couldn't have emerged unscathed and mentally sound from his abusive and damaging childhood, but his diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia couldn't be revealed at his trial. At Andrews's trial, his schizophrenia diagnosis was revealed, yet in the end, even Andrews did not receive clemency.

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