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FRONTLINE
A CASE OF INSANITY


interviews
cheryl coleman

Coleman had been a prosecutor for more than 10 years when she was assigned the Tortorici case, which she says was a "life-altering experience." Here, she talks candidly about her role in the trial, including her win-at-any-cost approach, and why she feels responsible for Tortorici's death.
norm lamarche

LaMarche, a juror in the Tortorici trial, says that he doesn't regret returning a guilty verdict. He says that while Tortorici was obviously mentally ill, the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Tortorici had meticulously planned the attack and understood the consequences of his actions.
peter lynch

Lynch was Ralph Tortorici's trial attorney. Here, Lynch discusses the many twists and turns in the trial and explains why he didn't ask the court to order another competency hearing. Lynch also describes his client's state of mind throughout the proceedings and says that the current system, in which the prosecution bears no burden for proving that a defendant is sane, is seriously flawed.
larry rosen

Former Albany County Court Judge Larry Rosen presided over the trial of Ralph Tortorici. Here, he explains why he didn't order an additional competency hearing after receiving Dr. Lawrence Siegel's letter questioning Tortorici's fitness to stand trial. He also gives his assessment of what's wrong with New York's system of dealing with mentally ill defendants and explains why he thinks juries are ill-equipped to handle insanity-defense cases.
lawrence siegel, m.d.

Dr. Lawrence Siegel, a psychiatrist, was hired by the prosecution to determine whether Tortorici was legally responsible for his actions when he took the students hostage at SUNY-Albany. After an examination, however, Siegel concluded that Tortorici was too delusional and mentally ill to be deemed fit for trial. He couldn't address the issue of whether Tortorici was legally insane at the time of the hostage-taking incident, he said, until he was in a more stable mental state. Siegel delivered a nine-page letter to the district attorney's office, elaborating on his findings. Here, Siegel talks about his reaction to the court's decision to proceed despite his letter and why he thinks the insanity defense is indispensable.
robert and matthew

Ralph's Tortortici's father and younger brother talk about what Ralph was like before the onset of schizophrenia and about the pain of witnessing the trajectory of his mental illness. What started out as seemingly normal adolescent rebellion and aggression progressed into something much worse: truly paranoid and deeply troubled behavior that culminated in the hostage-taking incident. Both Robert, Ralph's father, and Matthew, his brother, believe that Ralph was a sick person who deserved psychiatric treatment, not a prison sentence.
larry wiest

Larry Wiest was chief assistant district attorney in Albany County during the Tortorici trial. Here, he talks about the pressures of prosecuting a high-profile case, why he refused to accept a non-responsible plea from Tortorici, and his thoughts on the insanity defense in general.

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