Serial transit thief rejects plea deal to send message about Asperger's syndrome

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N.J. Burkett has the latest on the trial of an accused transit employee impersonator.

A serial transit thief rejected a plea deal Wednesday that could keep him out of prison -- and it's all to send a message.

Darius McCollum, who has been arrested 29 times for allegedly stealing buses and trains, now faces possible life in prison if his case goes to trial.

The rejection was a surprising and bold move. The prosecution's offer would have allowed him to plead not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. But he turned it down.

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McCollum's attorney, Sally Butler, said he is "determined to testify in his own defense and to tell his story on the witness stand."

He wants to use his trial as a forum for people who suffer from Asperger's syndrome.

Butler said that had he accepted the prosecution offer, McCollum would be committed to a psychiatric institution "until he is cured," which she believes would be for the rest of his life.

"There is no cure for the illness he has," she said.

McCollum commandeered a subway train when he was 15 years old, and has since repeatedly posed as a transit worker.

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