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.


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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