CC Info Page - re: use of expert testimony.
This article, appearing in the Union-Tribune, clearly shows that expert testimony from mental health professionals is as reliable as flipping a coin. Two of these 'professionals' testified under oath that Brandon Wilson is insane. Three more 'professionals' testified under oath that he is sane. Yet day after day after day, Judges make decisions that have disastrous effect on the lives of children simply based on the opinion of a mental health 'professional'.
This is sick. Anyone can buy justice today.
Psychologist says Wilson was insane when he killed 9-year-old
Alex Roth STAFF WRITER 23-Sep-1999
Thursday - Brandon Wilson's lawyer rested his case yesterday after a psychologist testified that the Wisconsin drifter was legally insane when he slashed 9-year-old Matthew Cecchi's throat.
Psychologist Dona Zimmerman is one of two defense-hired mental health professionals to testify that Wilson, 21, was delusional and didn't understand his conduct was wrong. But under questioning by a prosecutor, Zimmerman had difficulty listing the elements of legal insanity and admitted she didn't have much experience testifying on the issue in court. "I have only worked on four sanity cases in the last two years, so I don't have a large pool of cases to draw from," she testified after prosecutor David Rubin expressed surprise that she didn't have a better grasp of the legal standard.
In addition to the two defense experts, two court-appointed psychiatrists have testified, concluding that Wilson was sane when he attacked Matthew in an Oceanside Harbor beach restroom on Nov. 14, 1998. A psychiatrist hired by the prosecution, who has yet to testify, also has labeled Wilson sane.
To prove legal insanity, Wilson's lawyer must show he didn't understand and appreciate the "nature and quality" of his act or didn't realize it was wrong. Zimmerman testified that Wilson -- who claims he was fulfilling God's wishes by killing Matthew -- suffers from a psychotic disorder, a personality disorder and grandiose delusions. "I believe he did not comprehend the rightfulness or wrongfulness of what he was doing," she testified under questioning from defense lawyer Curt Owen. Wilson -- who confessed to the crime during his televised arraignment last November -- testified Tuesday that killing Matthew helped him fulfill his God-ordained role to hasten the end of the world. Wilson's personality disorder includes narcissistic and anti-social qualities, Zimmerman said.
In one psychological test, Wilson provided what could be considered "deviant" answers to several questions, she said. One question asked what Wilson would do if he saw a train heading toward a broken track. "Watch," he responded. She said Wilson has an IQ of 118, which falls into the "bright" or "well above average" range. On cross-examination, Rubin -- who has sought to portray Wilson as intelligent, manipulative and sadistic -- emphasized the pieces of his background that would point to an anti-social personality. He noted that as a youth, Wilson got in trouble for desecrating a graveyard, attacking mailboxes with a baseball bat and trying to steal a car.
Under questioning from Rubin, Zimmerman also admitted that Wilson knew society disapproved of murder. After Zimmerman left the stand, the prosecution began its case, calling several witnesses who helped subdue Wilson in Los Angeles after he attacked a woman with a knife two days after Matthew's death.
The prosecution is expected to conclude its case by the end of the week, with closing arguments scheduled for Monday. If the jury finds Wilson insane, he will go to a state mental hospital. If the panel finds him sane, a second phase of the trial will be needed to decide if he should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Copyright Union-Tribune Publishing Co.
Copyright © Design Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.
Last update 09/25/99