By Adam Ruthenbeck
On Wednesday morning in Department 13, an attempted murder trial involving a tragic family trauma resumed in front of Judge Victor Hwang.
Deputy Public Defender Eric Quandt called Mr. Everett, an expert in neurological disorders, to answer some questions regarding the effects of schizophrenia on one’s consciousness. Mr. Quandt began by asking general questions about how neurological disorders can affect the brain. Everett testified that neurological disorders such as schizophrenia can cause a disturbance in conscious thinking, and have the potential to result in a violent event.
Upon further questioning, Mr. Everett stated that after the incident, the defendant was assessed as a 14/15 on the Glasgow Coma Scale. The Glasgow Coma Scale measures one’s level of awareness and consciousness by testing motor skills, verbal response, and eye opening. While a GCS of 14 is not considered severe, Everett stated that it is significant.
According to Mr. Everett, the defendant was also exhibiting catatonic behavior on the day of the incident, which is consistent with the father’s testimony that the defendant was mumbling and not really aware or able to communicate. Catatonic behavior is defined by a significant decrease in someone’s responsiveness and reactivity to their environment, and can be an effect of schizophrenia.
Mr. Quandt also asked if paranoia is a subset of schizophrenia, to which Mr. Everett replied that paranoia it is a symptom and a part of the delusional system. He also added that paranoia affects one’s perception of threat, making them vulnerable to act in a manner that is completely devoid of reality.
During cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney Maia Maszara was determined to prove that the defendant was mentally present at the time of the incident. She asked Mr. Everett if someone suffering from delusions can still be aware of their actions, to which he responded “potentially, yes.” Ms. Maszara followed up by asking if someone in a state of psychosis can show goal-oriented behavior. Everett answered, “To a certain extent,” but he does not know to what extent in this specific situation.
Questions like these continued as Ms. Maszara tried to establish that, despite whatever effects the defendant might have been experiencing, he still showed an intent to kill. It seemed that Assistant District Attorney Maszara was adamant on glossing over the defendant’s mental health problems in order to prove his intent and lock him up.
Quandt and Maszara will give their closing statements on Thursday morning in Department 13. The verdict will follow.