Trial of therapist's killer nears end - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Trial of therapist's killer nears end

Posted: Updated:
David Tarloff outside the 19th Precinct, Feb. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa) David Tarloff outside the 19th Precinct, Feb. 16, 2008. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa)

JENNIFER PELTZ | AP

NEW YORK (AP) — No one denies he's a killer, but jurors will be asked to decide whether a mental patient who hacked a psychologist to death with a meat cleaver was a calculating criminal or a man too delusional to know right from wrong.

A prosecutor and defense lawyer laid out their final views of David Tarloff in closing arguments Tuesday. Deliberations are expected to start Wednesday in the murder trial.

Tarloff doesn't dispute killing therapist Kathryn Faughey in February 2008 as he tried to carry out a weird robbery plot targeting her officemate. He's pursuing an insanity defense, which means jurors must decide whether he understood the consequences of his actions well enough to be held criminally responsible.

Defense lawyer Bryan Konoski called it a case of "an insane plan by an insane man who was legally insane when it happened." But Manhattan Assistant District Attorney said Tarloff's conduct showed "a level of craftiness (and) a level of deceit" that show he knew what he was doing.

"Mental illness plays a role in this crime, clearly. The question is wrongfulness," Krutoy said.

About a dozen of Faughey's relatives lined rows of courtroom seats as the case, delayed for years because of Tarloff's psychiatric problems, neared its end. Tarloff, who has a history of courtroom outbursts, shifted in his seat and rubbed his face with his hands but listened quietly.

Tarloff, 45, has been in and out of psychiatric hospitals for more than two decades. Years of medical reports trace out his delusional world: He has said he hears voices, believes he's the Messiah, talks to God and has seen God's eye in tables and floors.

Convinced that his mother was suffering in a nursing home, Tarloff hatched what he saw as a scheme to save her.

He decided he would find a psychiatrist who'd had him committed in 1991, hold up the doctor for his ATM code, withdraw $40,000 or more, grab his mother out of the home and run off with her to Hawaii, he told authorities.

He had never met Faughey, 56, who shared an office with the psychiatrist he targeted, Dr. Kent Shinbach. Faughey encountered Tarloff first and confronted him. He slashed her 15 times, later telling authorities he thought she was evil and believed she'd attack him. Shinbach came to her aid and was seriously injured.

Tarloff prepared for his plan, making a series of phone calls to find out where Shinbach's private office was and what hours it kept, buying knives and a meat-pounding mallet and arriving with a suitcase of adult diapers and clothes for his mother. He fled afterward; police ultimately found him by matching fingerprints from the crime scene to prints taken from him a few weeks earlier, when he was arrested on charges of punching a security guard at a hospital where his mother was being treated.

Prosecutors say Tarloff's preparations, actions and escape show he was cognizant that he was doing wrong and breaking the law. After taking Shinbach's wallet, Tarloff spotted the doctor's address, threatened to kill his family and gave him a fake name, Krutoy noted.

"It's cold, it's calculating, and he's able to do it," the prosecutor said. "Was there anything that evidence psychosis? Not a single thing."

But defense lawyers say the strange plan shows how disconnected Tarloff was from reality, and his conviction that God approved it illustrates the depths of his delusions. Konoski said Tarloff had, "at best, surface capacity" to recognize the wrong he was doing.

"There may be appearances of rationality when you break it down to its minutia," Konoski said. But ultimately, "there is nothing about this case that is rational or makes any sense."

If convicted, Tarloff could be sentenced to life in prison. If his defense succeeds, he will be acquitted but held in a mental hospital until — if ever — doctors and a judge decided he was well enough to go free.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Smoking rates on the rise in New York City

    Smoking rates on the rise in New York City

    Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:03 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:03:52 GMT
    For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.  Sixteen percent of adult New Yorkers smoked in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2010, which was the city's lowest recorded rate, according to the findings released by New York City's Department of Health.
    For the first time in years, more than 1 million New Yorkers are smoking, marking a disturbing rise of tobacco use in the city that pioneered a number of anti-smoking initiatives that were emulated nationally.  Sixteen percent of adult New Yorkers smoked in 2013, up from 14 percent in 2010, which was the city's lowest recorded rate, according to the findings released by New York City's Department of Health.
  • Report: health risks at some nail salons

    Report: health risks at some nail salons

    Monday, September 15 2014 10:28 PM EDT2014-09-16 02:28:27 GMT
    One of the most surprising findings in a report from the New York City public advocate is that city officials have virtually no authority over how nail salons are run. The city can't enforce standards like they do with restaurants, so it's clearly a case of beauty buyer beware. We get our nails done without thinking too much about it.
    One of the most surprising findings in a report from the New York City public advocate is that city officials have virtually no authority over how nail salons are run. The city can't enforce standards like they do with restaurants, so it's clearly a case of beauty buyer beware. We get our nails done without thinking too much about it.
  • Etan Patz murder confession played in court

    Etan Patz murder confession played in court

    Monday, September 15 2014 6:43 PM EDT2014-09-15 22:43:37 GMT
    A judge allowed a confession tape to be played in court in connection with the case of Etan Patz, who vanished in 1979. On the tape, Pedro Hernandez described how he killed Patz. But his lawyers say Hernandez falsely confessed and doesn't understand his rights. Before Hernandez's videotaped confession was played, Patz's mother quickly left the courtroom unable to watch the video.
    A judge allowed a confession tape to be played in court in connection with the case of Etan Patz, who vanished in 1979. On the tape, Pedro Hernandez described how he killed Patz. But his lawyers say Hernandez falsely confessed and doesn't understand his rights. Before Hernandez's videotaped confession was played, Patz's mother quickly left the courtroom unable to watch the video.
Powered by WorldNow

KSAZ-TV & KUTP
511 W. Adams St.
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Phone: (602) 257-1234
Fax: (602) 262-0177

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices