With jury deadlocked, Tarloff case declared a mistrial

Detectives walk David Tarloff from the 19th Precinct stationhouse on February 16 after he was arrested for killing psychologist Kathryn Faughey. Tarloff, who has battled schizophrenia for years, planned to rob Shinbach, who signed off on institutionalizing him 17 years ago, and attacked Faughey after she startled him in the waiting room of her office.  Credit: James Keivom/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.
Detectives walk David Tarloff from the 19th Precinct stationhouse after he was arrested for killing psychologist Kathryn Faughey. Credit: James Keivom/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images.

The murder trial of David Tarloff, accused of killing psychologist Kathyrn Faughey on February 12, 2008, was ruled a mistrial today, as the jury informed the presiding judge, Justice Edward McLaughlin, that they were at a deadlock.

Tarloff, who is a diagnosed schizophrenic, attacked the Upper East Side psychologist five years ago in the office she shared with his former psychiatrist, Kent Shinbach, who had not treated him in 17 years.

The jury had previously insisted they were at a deadlock on two separate occasions, and both times McLaughlin directed them to continue deliberating.

On Tuesday, however, McLaughlin announced, “I’m willing to say we’re finished,” the New York Times reported.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has already vowed to retry the case.

If convicted, Tarloff would face up to life in prison. If the insanity defense is accepted, he would be taken to a secure psychiatric facility, possibly for the rest of his life.

 

The attack

Court-appointed defense attorneys did not challenge that Tarloff killed Faughey, but maintained that he was not mentally well enough on the day of the attack to comprehend that it was wrong.

Tarloff has been in psychiatric care intermittently since 1991.

Evan Krutoy, an attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, said the robbery was meticulously pre-meditated, and that the fact that Tarloff attempted to hide what he had done and escape proved he knew he had done something wrong.

Tarloff intended to rob Shinbach for money to take his mother from a nursing home to Hawaii, where he wanted to care for her himself.

The defense argued that he believed God wanted him to do it.

Tarloff reportedly told police that he was surprised to see Faughey when he arrived at the office.

He beat her in the head with a mallet and stabbed her repeated in the chest with a knife.

When Shinbach went to help Faughey, Tarloff attacked him as well.

Faughey died on her office floor.

 

Deadlock

After listening to three weeks of testimony at the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the jury was unable to come to a conclusive decision on the insanity defense.

Jurors sent McLaughlin notes on two separate occasions insisting they were deadlocked; the judge ordered them to keep on both times.

The first note, sent last Thursday, was seven days into jury deliberations. The Times reported that yelling could be heard anytime the door to the jury room door opened.

At that time, McLaughlin read the jury an Allen charge: a script directing them to continue deliberating and set aside opinions held for pride or other unsound reasons.

Jurors were reportedly visibly angry; some even rolled their eyes.

McLaughlin expressed empathy over the difficulty of the task.

But, he said, “it was not intended to be any other way.”

Forensic psychologist, lawyer and professor Charles Ewing told the Times he was surprised that cases involving insanity defenses didn’t result in hung juries more often, as the jurors are charged with the challenge of gauging the testimony of conflicting experts.

“A hung jury may simply mean that the jurors could not agree on the morality of punishing someone who is clearly mentally ill, regardless of whether he meets the high legal standard for insanity,” Ewing explained.

The jury had at one point asked to have expert testimony reread, and spent almost a full day hearing expert opinions for a second time.

They had also previously asked McLaughlin to repeat his explanations of the requirements to prove insanity, and of the consequences of hung jury.

One juror had asked to go home on account of “negative attitudes” among the other jurors. She ultimately stayed.

To prove insanity, it is not enough for the defendant to have been under psychiatric care for a lifetime; the jury must be persuaded that Tarloff did not understand that his actions would kill Faughey and that it was wrong to attack her.

The Times pointed out that this defense is used very infrequently: out of 5,910 murder cases in New York state in the past decade, only seven defendants have been found at trial not responsible for reason of mental disease or defect.

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Kevin Smith makes peace with the Internet

I was thinking about Ain't It Cool News and Harry Knowles last night, wondering if anyone from Ain't It Cool had reviewed my new movie…

Movies

Art imitates life in 'Swim Little Fish Swim'

There's a certain comfort to be taken in finding that young artists are still moving to New York and trying to make it — and…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

NFL

Oday Aboushi ready for increased role, and to…

Oday Aboushi might feel comfortable enough to engage in some trash talk the next time he is on the field.

NFL

Giants vs. Texans: 3 things to watch

The Giants host the surprising Texans (2-0) in what may already be a must-win game for Big Blue.

NFL

Eric Decker misses practice again, could miss Monday

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker missed practice Thursday as he continues to rehab a hamstring injury suffered last Sunday.

MLB

Derek Jeter still focused on baseball as final…

Derek Jeter has effectively hid his emotions for 20 years in the Bronx.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…