By Ruby Wilks and Pam Nichada
Defense counsel in the Murder case continued to call witnesses to the stand on June 27, 2019, and June 28, 2019. The defendant has pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted murder with premeditation and deliberation, as well as assault leading to great bodily injury. A variety of the defendant’s friends and doctors testified to the changes in her behavior and demeanor after she was punched in the face a few months prior to the incident that led to her arrest.
On the morning of June 27, 2019, the defense counsel called Doctor Peter Ferren, a psychologist from San Francisco General Hospital, to the stand. Dr. Ferren and his colleagues treated the defendant after the incident with her grandmother that led to her arrest when she was placed on a 5150 – a California law code referring to individuals who present a danger to themselves or others due to signs of mental illness.
Dr. Ferren, referencing The defendant’s patient report, stated that his staff described The defendant as “guarded,” “internally occupied,” and “thought blocked.” He also noted that she was “staring into space” and “unable to make eye contact.”
The defendant told the doctors at General Hospital that she had been hearing voices for around two months. She explained that there were many different voices at many different volumes. The defendant was experiencing command auditory hallucinations, which Dr. Ferren described as voices in someone’s head that tell or demand that person to do a particular act.
The defendant was diagnosed with an unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. This means that the doctors were unable to determine the underlying cause of The defendant’s psychosis. Dr. Ferren mentioned that some of the common symptoms of psychosis include impairment in judging reality, hallucinations, illogical thinking, delusions, and paranoia.
During meetings with psychologists at General Hospital, She expressed that she did not want to kill her grandmother and felt regretful of her actions. In fact, She reported to the doctors that she had recently moved in with her grandmother because she felt unsafe living with her mom and her sister, as she believed they wanted to kill her.
Doctor Ferren noted that once She was placed on an antipsychotic medication at General Hospital her behavior and demeanor returned to normal, and she was then brought into police custody.
Later, Chadwick, a close friend of the defendant, testified. Chadwick knows hHer through his boyfriend’s sister, Laura, who went to high school with and worked at Safeway with Her.
Chadwick described Her prior to her assault as a fun, social, and thoughtful person. He also testified that prior to her assault She had never shown signs of paranoia or violence and had never had any issues with her family.
On May 28, 2018, a day after the assault occurred, She came to Chadwick’s house to spend time with Chadwick, Chadwick’s partner, and Laura. Chadwick noticed that She was unusually quiet and would only talk to Laura. At one point during that night, Chadwick saw that The defendant had left the house and was crying in her car.
Next, Chadwick recalled a strange comment that The defendant directed toward him once she had returned inside and everyone was watching TV together. Chadwick explained that She asked, “Chad what the f**k did you just say about me closing my eyes?” Chadwick was struck by The defendant’s aggressive tone and was confused due to the fact that neither Chadwick nor anyone else had said anything at all during that period of time.
Chadwick then described another unusual interaction with The defendant that occurred at a later date when she showed up unannounced at his house around 1:30 in the morning. When Chadwick woke up and spoke with Her through a window next to the front door, She asked to see Laura and mentioned something about her parents and a hand implant.
Chadwick asked The defendant to leave because it was 1:30 in the morning. He reported that she then went back to her car and sat in the driveway holding up a lighter for about five minutes before driving away.
During cross-examination by the prosecutor, Chadwick testified that he was not scared of the defendant but, instead, that he was worried about her.
After this, the defendant’s high school friend testified. The high school friend stated that she knew her to be kind, helpful, honest, and not violent. She even stated that She is the reason why she graduated high school.
The high school friend then recalled an incident when She came to her house to take her to eat at McDonald’s. When the friend got into the defendant’s car, The defendant told her that she had just been punched in the face. The high school friend stated that the left side of the defendant’s face felt warm to the touch and that as the night went on the left side of the defendant’s face became noticeably red and swollen.
On the morning of June 28, 2019, the defense brought in a doctor and a nurse practitioner who met with The defendant after her assault but before the incident with her grandmother that led to her arrest.
The doctor testified that the defendant came to the emergency room after calling the police in the middle of the night because she feared her family was going to hurt her. The doctor diagnosed her with a panic disorder, a mental disorder, and restlessness. He provided her with anti-anxiety medication.
However, when The defendant later went to a health center called La Clínica, the nurse practitioner “strongly recommended” that The defendant stop taking the anxiety medication. Instead, the nurse practitioner suggested that the defendant relies on breathing exercises to help with her panic attacks.
Together, the witnesses helped paint a picture of The defendant’s worrisome and altered behavior that began after she was punched in the face a few months prior to the incident that led to her arrest. Additionally, the witnesses have illustrated the extent to which She made extensive efforts to reach out for help after she suffered the serious assault, and the extent to which the doctors failed to help prevent her mental health from worsening.