By Rebecca Henely
Despite being found fit to stand trial early last week, an ordered last-minute psychiatric evaluation of admitted killer David Tarloff found him unfit to stand trial, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office. As a result, Justice Edward McLaughlin declared a mistrial before the jury selection was completed, the DA’s office said.
Tarloff, a former resident of Corona, was charged with slashing Dr. Kathryn Faughey, a Manhattan psychoanalyst originally from Sunnyside, 15 times with a meat cleaver in her office on the Upper East Side Feb. 12, 2008. He also seriously injured Dr. Kenneth Shinbach, with whom Faughey shared offices.
Psychiatric evaluations had found Tarloff to be mentally fit for trial before selection of a jury began a week ago, the DA’s office said. As jury selection started, last-minute psychiatric examinations of the defendant were ordered by McLaughlin, and two psychiatrists determined Tarloff was unfit to stand trial, the DA’s office said.
The New York Post reported before the judge declared a mistrial that Tarloff had been acting oddly in the courtroom, making grabbing motions, muttering and blowing kisses. The second evaluation had been ordered after Tarloff refused to leave his jail cell Friday, the Post said.
Bryan Konoski, criminal defense attorney for Tarloff, told the Post Tarloff had stripped naked and run around the ward when he returned to Bellevue Hospital Center that day.
The judge’s decision puts the case back to the pre-trial phase, the DA’s office said. The case is adjourned until Nov. 9.
This is not the first time Tarloff has been declared fit to stand trial before being declared unfit once again. In June 2008, he was found capable of going to trial after being ordered by a civil court to take his medications. Later that year, in October 2008, Judge Charles Solomon found him unfit after psychiatrists from Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center on Wards Island said he was not up to being tried.
Tarloff had told detectives in 2008 he had gone to the office to rob Shinbach and use the money to take his invalid mother to Hawaii. Court papers revealed Shinbach had been involved in institutionalizing Tarloff in 1991.
Konoski said doctors have diagnosed Tarloff as a paranoid schizophrenic.
Tarloff pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges of murder and attempted murder in April 2008.ï»¿
“He thinks that no matter who the jury is, he’s going to be found completely innocent because God is going to put thoughts into their heads,” Konoski told the Post. “He thinks it’s impossible that a jury will find him guilty.”
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4564.