Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Defense Argues Quintero Is Insane

Here's an update from the Houston Chronicle on the capital murder trial of Juan Quintero ("Experts clash over Quintero's sanity," May 6, 2008):

"Attorneys locked horns Tuesday in a battle of experts in the death penalty trial of Juan Leonardo Quintero, arguing whether the 34-year-old was insane when he shot Houston police officer Rodney Johnson in 2006.

Testimony of neuropsychologist Ruben Gur capped the defense case, saying that his tests reveal Quintero's brain is irregular and that irregularity may have contributed to psychological problems.

Prosecutors put on two doctors from a Houston medical imaging company who said they didn't see anything unusual about Quintero's brain.

The two sides clashed over whether Gur's work identifying brain problems was scientifically accurate. Prosecutors tried to show that Gur, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, used methods that are still experimental.

Gur, and other witnesses for the defense, said Quintero has brain damage from a childhood fall.

Earlier Tuesday, Quintero's lawyer was held in contempt for withholding documents prosecutors said they were entitled to under the rules of evidence.

During an early morning hearing outside the presence of the jury, state District Judge Joan Campbell ordered that Danalynn Recer appear after the trial concludes to explain why she should not be held in contempt.

Campbell is expected to decide what punishment, if any, Recer should receive after the trial concludes.

The judge and Recer declined to comment, as did prosecutor Lyn McClellan.

David Lane, an attorney assisting Recer, said she forgot a doctor's report at her office, delaying the court about 10 minutes while it was faxed.

The documents involved the work of a doctor who testified Tuesday, bolstering assertions by a psychologist who told jurors Monday that Quintero was insane during the few minutes when he shot Johnson.

Prosecutors considered the report important for them to use during cross-examination of the doctor, D.L. Creson.

The defense team is trying to show that Quintero is not guilty of capital murder by reason of insanity.
Antonio Puente said Monday he believes the defendant meets the legal definition of 'insane.'

Quintero has acknowledged in a videotaped statement to police that he shot Johnson after being arrested in September 2006.

Quintero's attorneys have said he suffered brain damage in a childhood fall and that he shot Johnson because he perceived that the officer was a threat.

Johnson was shot seven times as he filled out paperwork in the front seat of his patrol car. Quintero was handcuffed and locked in the back seat.

Investigators have said Johnson searched Quintero, but overlooked the gun he had tucked in his waistband, after arresting him for not having a driver's license."

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