salvi

OFFICIAL COURT TRANSCRIPT OF 4-DAY COMPETENCY HEARING, JULY 1995


In testimony over four days of July 1995 four psychiatrists argued the issue of John Salvi's competency to stand trial. A day-by-day summary of their testimony follows, linked to full transcripts of the proceedings.

Three psychiatrists testifying for the defense concluded that John Salvi is mentally ill and therefore unfit to stand trial. They portrayed him as caring only about publicizing his belief in an "international conspiracy" against Catholics. A psychiatrist for the prosecution agreed that Salvi has a mental disorder, but insisted the condition would not affect his ability to participate in a trial and noted that Salvi's behavior may really be an act.

Salvi says he is competent and wants the death penalty, if convicted. During the hearing he interrupted the proceedings repeatedly to comment about anti-Catholic conspiracies.



  • JULY 24, 1995 (179k)
    Dr. Phillip Resnick, a defense forensic psychiatrist, states that Salvi suffers from psychotic delusional thinking. Resnick cites examples from his January 1995 interview with Salvi and from Salvi's earlier conduct. In cross-examining Resnick, the prosecution attempts to establish Salvi as a political defendant who is, therefore, capable of standing trial.




  • JULY 25, 1995 (315k) The cross-examination of Dr. Resnick continues. The prosecution attempts to establish that Salvi, in his attitude to the death penalty and his behavior, fits the profile of those charged with first degree murder. Further, the prosecution contends, a political offender can also be psychotic. Salvi's lawyers emphasize what they depict as his irrational refusal of the insanity defense and his inability to account for his whereabouts at the time of his alleged crimes. Dr. Resnick notes that Salvi's outburst in the courtroom also supports the case for his incompetency. Two other defense experts, Dr. Ronald Shouten and Dr. Robert Kinscherff, add that Salvi's critical-thinking capacity is impaired, that he has difficulty establishing relationships with defense counsel and that his mental disease explains his inability to testify relevantly. The fact that Salvi can relate some narratives but not others, Shouten says, does not mean Salvi can reliably provide a narrative to his counsel.



  • JULY 26, 1995 (264k)
    Dr. Joel Haycock, who spent eleven hours with Salvi during the defendant's 60 days under observation at Bridgewater State Hospital, testifies for the prosecution. Dr. Haycock says that he found no mental disease and believes Salvi is competent to stand trial. According to Dr. Haycock, Salvi can relate to his attorneys, testify relevantly, and has the ability to not engage in self-defeating behavior. Dr. Haycock also maintains that Salvi purposefully chose not to give a narrative of the events of December 30, 1994.



  • JULY 28, 1995 (221k)
    After more cross-examination of Dr. Haycock, both sides present closing arguments. The defense stresses that Salvi's belief system interferes with his ability to cooperate with counsel -- exemplified, notably, by Salvi's not giving counsel information about his whereabouts at the time of the shootings. In its final argument the prosecution details how Salvi planned his actions, acquired weapons and maps and selected the clinics. It notes that personality disorders may exist in many people, including criminals. And it cites as the "critical issue" Salvi's psychiatric interview in which he refuses to give a narrative of the events of December 30, 1994.





    Home Page | Psychiatric Hearing | Competency Hearing

    FRONTLINE / WGBH Educational Foundation / www.wgbh.org
    web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation
  • SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

    FRONTLINE on

    ShopPBS