TAMPA, Fla. – A teacher will claim she was insane due to emotional stress and did not know right from wrong when she had sex numerous times with a 14-year-old student, her attorney said Monday.
"What teacher in her right mind would do something like this?" attorney John Fitzgibbons said after a brief hearing for his client, Debra Lafave (search), a middle-school reading teacher.
The judge agreed to appoint two mental health professionals to evaluate Lafave, 24. Prosecutors have said a state psychologist already determined Lafave was not insane, while one hired by the defense concluded that she was mentally ill.
Lafave's trial was set for Dec. 5 on four felony counts of lewd and lascivious battery and one count of lewd and lascivious exhibition. Each carries a maximum 15-year prison term.
Fitzgibbons said plea bargaining broke down because prosecutors wanted Lafave to serve too much prison time, though he did not give details.
"To place an attractive young woman in that kind of hell hole is like putting a piece of raw meat in with the lions," said Fitzgibbons. "I'm not sure she would survive."
A state attorney's office spokeswoman didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.
The boy told investigators he and the teacher had sex in a classroom, her house and once in a vehicle while his 15-year-old cousin drove. He said Lafave told him her marriage was in trouble and that she was aroused by the fact that having sex with him was not allowed.