Witnesses say: Shenkman not delusional on day of kidnapping

Hartford -- A series of witnesses testified Wednesday that Richard Shenkman seemed neither delusional nor impulsive when he allegedly kidnapped his ex-wife and held her hostage two summers ago, as the prosecution sought to dismantle the notion that a psychotic Shenkman acted impulsively and was unable to control himself that day.

Shenkman had plotted the kidnapping eight months in advance and was fully aware of his actions, the state's witnesses testified. The prosecution's last witness of the day, a lawyer who represented Shenkman's ex-wife, Nancy Tyler, in the couple's divorce, said Shenkman told him he would "do whatever I have to do to get payback."

"He just wanted her destroyed," attorney John Harvey Jr. said. "He said that over and over and over."

Earlier in the day, Thomas Guthiel, a forensic psychiatrist, said that Shenkman had self-esteem issues and narcissism, but that his actions were not those of an insane man.

"You can have a lot of unrealistic ideas without being delusional," Guthiel said.

The state called nine witnesses to the stand on Wednesday, the first day that prosecutor Vicki Melchiorre called rebuttal witnesses in the trial, which is in its third week. Shenkman faces 10 counts in the July 2007 incident, including kidnapping, threatening, assault and arson. Shenkman has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Other state's witnesses on Wednesday said that, during their interviews or interaction with him, Shenkman did not mention hearing voices; others said Shenkman appeared to fake hearing voices and was too "theatrical" in his descriptions of those voices.

Defense attorney Hugh Keefe went after the legitimacy of the credentials of the state's witnesses and reiterated throughout the day that the two psychiatrists who had seen Shenkman within 24 hours of the hostage incident had each diagnosed him as seriously depressed and psychotic.

Testimony this week has focused on whether Shenkman had the ability to control his conduct, not on whether he knew right from wrong.

Because of scheduling difficulties with at least one witness, testimony will resume Friday afternoon. The trial, originally expected to wrap up by Friday, will now continue into early next week.

 

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