Borderline Personality News
September 28, 2006
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Ex-GI Had 'Antisocial Personality Disorder'
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Decision-making Impairment Appears Greater In Alcoholics With Antisocial
And Borderline Personality Disorders
Hair-pulling Disorder Caused By Faulty Gene In Some Families
Controlling Behavior Of Children With Tourette And Tic Disorders
Teen's mental state debated again at trial
Teen's Mental State Debated Again at Trial
From: Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas) | Date: September 27, 2006
Sep. 27--CLEBURNE -- Two hours after Stevie Alexandra Johnson signed a statement for police describing how she fatally stabbed her stepgrandfather, the tearful teenager told a counselor that she regretted killing David Underwood although she didn't recall exactly what happened.
"She remembered seeing the bloody body and her grandmother screaming she'd killed him. She told me he did not deserve it," the counselor, Donna Gilmore, testified Tuesday on the fifth day of testimony in Johnson's murder trial.
Gilmore is the Johnson County Mental Health and Mental Retardation manager who evaluated Johnson's mental condition on July 21, 2005, six hours after Underwood was killed.
Jurors also heard psychologist Tim Proctor testify that in May 2006, Johnson told him that she "blacked out" and didn't remember killing Underwood.
But she also told Proctor that she had heard voices telling her that her stepgrandfather was going to hurt her grandmother that night.
Proctor cited the teen's conflicting statements to police, Gilmore and himself as evidence that she has exaggerated the symptoms of her mental illness as presented by numerous witnesses.
Johnson, 17, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Prosecutors and Johnson's defense attorney are expected to deliver closing arguments today, and the jury is expected to begin deliberations.
Johnson could be acquitted, found not guilty by reason of insanity or convicted of murder. If she is convicted, the jury will assess punishment, which could range from probation to life in prison.
Proctor, the last of 35 witnesses, told jurors that he disagrees with defense psychiatrist Charles Yackulic, who testified Friday that he believes Johnson was a schizophrenic whose delusions caused her to fatally stab Underwood.
Proctor's diagnosis is that Johnson is depressed and has borderline personality disorder, which includes problems with relationships, mood swings and manipulative, impulsive behavior. Her drug abuse caused earlier psychotic behavior noted by other witnesses, including mental health experts, Proctor testified.
Proctor said psychological tests support the observations of mental health professionals who say Johnson appears to be faking severe mental health symptoms, such as hearing voices. One of the observers is a psychiatrist at North Texas State Hospital, where Johnson was sent for a 70-day evaluation last year.
"Typically, it's her reporting symptoms, not people observing those symptoms," Proctor said.
Even if Johnson did hear voices the night she killed Underwood, that doesn't mean that she is legally insane, he said.
"The mere presence of voices didn't mean she needed to kill him," Proctor said. "Because he was a threat, he wasn't an immediate threat. And it doesn't mean she didn't know it was wrong to go in and stab him."
In a further effort to show that Johnson could exaggerate her erratic behavior, prosecutor Kriste Burnett played a 90-minute videotape made on July 1, 2005, at the Cleburne police station after Johnson was picked up for roaming the streets.
As police tried to reach a relative to pick her up, the handcuffed teenager alternately whimpered for the officers to call her mother or grandmother, and cursed and threatened the same officers for not doing so more quickly.
"Please call my Nana and tell her to come pick me up," Johnson pleaded.
A second later, she gestured at computers on a desk and screamed, "Watch me push them over!" She then demanded, "Let me use the restroom!" for what the officer said was the third of five times during the wait.
After at least 20 minutes of the rapid switches from crying to cursing, Johnson calmed down when a female officer brought in a package of animal crackers and a box of juice. The officer Johnson had been cursing removed her handcuffs, warning her "don't kick the table" while eating her snack.
But Johnson began whining after she dropped her crackers, when she wanted to go to sleep and later when her mother still had not arrived.
When her mother finally arrived, Johnson again pleaded and cursed the officer until she was released.
"I'm ready to go home. Why can't I just be released? I've been waiting all freaking day here. I'm ready to go home," she said.
Seconds later, running to her mother, she said, "I'm ready to go home. ... I had crackers and juice."
Proctor said the videotape demonstrates that Johnson knew right from wrong and how to change her behavior to get what she wanted.
Defense attorney Bill Mason suggested that the teenager was behaving like a young child, huddling in the corner, sleeping, crying and grinning at the camera.
Martha Deller, 817-390-7857 email@example.com
Copyright (c) 2006, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Texas
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