Shenkman trial begins Monday

Jury trial is set to begin in Hartford Superior Court on Monday for Richard Shenkman, who is accused of kidnapping his ex-wife and holding her captive during a day-long standoff at his South Windsor home in July 2009.

The 62-year-old former marketing executive has been held without bond since he allegedly accosted Nancy P. Tyler at gunpoint in a Hartford parking garage on July 7, 2009, and held her hostage at his South Windsor home for hours while making a host of demands to police.

After Tyler escaped, police said Shenkman torched the house, then threatened officers with a gun when he left the burning structure.

Shenkman is going on trial on charges of first-degree kidnapping, violation of a protective order, possession of a pistol without a permit, first- and second-degree threatening, third-degree assault, interfering with police and first-degree arson.

Shenkman pleaded not guilty to the charges during pretrial arguments Sept. 12. His attorney, Hugh F. Keefe, will attempt to convince the jury that Shenkman, due to a mental illness, did not understand the wrongfulness of his conduct or could not control himself.

In Connecticut, a person accused of a crime can be found not guilty because, at the time of the crime, the accused lacked the capacity - through mental disease or defect - to appreciate the wrongfulness of his conduct or control that conduct. Shenkman has been evaluated by experts for the defense and state who are expected to testify at the trial.

The upcoming trial is separate from a pending case in New London Superior Court, where Shenkman faces charges of torching Tyler's Niantic beach home in 2007 in the middle of a contentious divorce.

The Niantic arson case was added to the trial list, but the state's attorney's office has said that it was awaiting the outcome of the South Windsor case.

Though he most recently lived in South Windsor, Shenkman was known in southeastern Connecticut for his role in organizing the OpSail 2000 and Boats, Books and Brushes festivals in New London. Shenkman and Tyler had co-owned and operated the public relations company Prime Media, which ran both events.

k.crompton@theday.com

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