By Nabil Sirur
San Francisco – The beginning of the week kicked off with a long time expert physician on the witness stand for the defense in a San Francisco murder case. Dr. Woods has been practicing for over 25 years but his education and experience dates further back. He specializes in neuropsychiatry, looking at issues of brain development functioning, and so far is able to operate in about 12 states. He is on the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has even studied victims of Kenya and Tanzania bombings as well as the 9/11 first responders.
He has also testified multiple times in criminal matters and is a forensic physician. The forensic physician’s job is to testify for the court and not for the individual client or any lawyer. They are to serve the court’s purpose of finding out the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
It’s important to note that the D.A. in this case was attempting to discredit Dr. Woods as much as possible to the jury, even though he laid out his extensive credentials as a forensic physician. During the cross-examination, the D.A. would pose questions toward the doctor that made it seem as if it were in his own best interest to claim the defendant was unconscious during the incident. The prosecutor aimed to spin out questions that had to do with Dr. Woods getting paid by the defense counsel – which is common for expert witnesses to receive if the defense counsel relies on their testimony.
He also attempted to stick in the juries mind that Dr. Woods has only testified for the defense and never for the People. Dr. Woods, who is obligated to tell the truth, stated that the prosecution in the past and present never have called him to testify. It has only been the defense counsel which has called for his testimony. Dr. Woods eloquently explained that he testifies for the courts and not the client or the defense.
In this matter, one of the defendant’s charges is attempted murder by premeditation and deliberation. The defense counsel is rebutting those charges, claiming she has been suffering from neurological brain disorder and has not been conscious ever since she was punched on the left temporal lobe on May 27, 2018. Roughly two months after the punching incident occurred, she was arrested for strangling and killing her grandmother.
The left temporal lobe is in charge of memory storage, the process of hearing sounds, visual recognition of faces or objects and the use of language. At the time of her arrest, the defendant was not conscious according to the defense counsel. Dr. Woods agreed because he had interviewed the defendant several times. He looked at four areas to determine his conclusion – including social history, the punch to the left temporal lobe, neuropsychological testing of the previous doctor’s examination on the defendant, and his psychosis interviews.
In terms of the defendant’s social history, there was no prior criminal or substance abuse history. Her health records from before show that she never had any problems of this sort until the punching incident. In fact, her educational records and social life indicates that she never had any neurological disorder and also never displayed any type of behavior, before the punch to the temporal lobe, that would allow her to kill someone. She graduated at 17 and she also had a history of loving her grandmother, according to her family and friends who testified a week ago.
The second area that Dr. Woods closely looked at was the incident where she was punched in the left temporal lobe. She has since suffered from mental inflexibility, dizziness, hearing voices, visual impairment and delusional senses, among other harsh symptoms. He explained how the brain becomes dysfunctional if it is hit really hard and in close range to the left temporal lobe. In her case, the brain nerves ultimately stretched out and became disconnected. The third area, which was the neurological testing done by the previous doctor, also corroborated with the fourth area, the psychosis interview he conducted several times with The defendant.
After looking at those four areas in the category to assess her state of mind, it was his opinion that she was not conscious of what she was doing when she strangled her grandmother.