Mistrial for Schizophrenic in Killing of Psychologist
A Manhattan judge declared a mistrial Monday in the case of David Tarloff, a schizophrenic man accused of hacking a psychologist to death in her Upper East Side office, after court-appointed doctors found him mentally unfit to stand trial.
The mistrial, declared by Justice Edward J. McLaughlin of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, came before a full jury was even selected. It brought yet another delay in the trial of Mr. Tarloff, who was arrested more than two years ago on charges that he fatally slashed the psychologist, Dr. Kathryn Faughey.
This was the second time Mr. Tarloff, who has a history of psychosis, was declared unfit for trial since his arrest. But last year, doctors determined that Mr. Tarloff was in a good enough mental state to stand trial, and so the case proceeded and opening statements were expected Monday.
Instead, after Mr. Tarloff refused to leave his holding cell to go to court for jury selection on Friday afternoon, two doctors appointed by the court examined him Monday morning and declared him unfit. Someone is declared unfit when he or she is mentally unable to assist in his or her own defense.
The prosecution, which expressed skepticism in court over the latest finding that Mr. Tarloff was unfit, is expected to have its own expert doctor examine Mr. Tarloff on Tuesday. If that doctor finds Mr. Tarloff unfit, then he will probably be sent to a mental institution for several months, perhaps more than a year, until he is retested and found fit.
If the prosecution’s doctor determines that Mr. Tarloff is fit, then the defense lawyers will most likely hire their own expert to examine him, and then a hearing would be held to determine whether Mr. Tarloff was in a position to stand trial.
Mr. Tarloff, who is using an insanity defense, faces up to life in prison if he is convicted of murder charges. His lawyers had told the court that when he slashed the Dr. Faughey in 2008, he was driven to it by voices that he thought were God telling him to do it.
Source: New York Times