New psych tests show Tarloff unfit for trial

Eyewitness News Exclusive
February 4, 2009 6:12:50 PM PST
There are new questions Thursday about the mental state of the man accused in the vicious meat cleaver murder of a Manhattan psychologist. The Eyewitness News Investigators have obtained new psychiatric reports on David Tarloff, which find he is unfit to stand trial.

What is notable is that the latest psychiatric reports essentially refute the findings of two reports taken back in February that said David Tarloff is fit to stand trial. The question, now, is the Manhattan district attorney's office going to continue to argue that Tarloff is mentally competent?

Tarloff's attorney now believes his client is so paranoid that he thinks people trying to help him are conspiring against him.

Attorney Bryan Konoski: "He won't talk to me. He won't talk to me at all. He thinks that I'm a spy. He thinks that I'm working with the prosecution."
The Investigators' Sarah Wallace: "And the fact that he's not communicating with you? What does that mean? You're his lawyer."
Konoski: "To me, it just shows that he's got serious symptoms of psychosis."

And that is exactly what two independent psychiatrists found during an evaluation several weeks ago in a holding cell at the Queens criminal court building. The evaluation of Tarloff was in connection with a misdemeanor assault charge against a security guard at St. John's hospital. The determination was that Tarloff is unfit to stand trial.

One psychiatrist wrote, "The defendant's eye contact is intense and ominous. His mood is irate and very easily angered. Mr. Tarloff does not talk about his Manhattan case but does reference it on several occasions: 'I know the the incident in Manhattan, but I never hit anyone since grade school.'"

Tarloff is accused of the horrific meat cleaver attack on psychologist Kathryn Faughey. But last February, two psychiatrists determined he was fit to stand trial in that case.

"The irony here is that it's absolutely ridiculous that you can be found unfit in one county, Queens, but yet come over the border essentially to Manhtattan and be found fit there," Konoski said. "You can't be fit in one place and unfit in another place. It makes absolutely no sense."

Tarloff is now back at Rikers Island, where his attorney says he's not taking his medication regularly and has been suicidal.

"I need him to be in a psychiatric hospital," Konoski said. "A state psychiatric hospital getting the help that he needs, getting the treatment that he needs. I'm hoping that the prosecution sees it the way I see it."

The Manhattan DA's office is not saying if the latest psychiatric reports will change their position. Both sides and Tarloff will be back in court next Tuesday for a hearing.


STORY BY: The Investigators' Sarah Wallace