Trial in 18-year-old's slaying now in hands of a jury
Defense rips into mental health system that turned away Terrence Andrews
March 25, 2011 4:00 AM
By Vivian Nereim Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
After three days of gruesome testimony in his trial, the fate of Terrence Andrews now rests with 12 jurors, who must decide whether he is guilty of murder -- or too wracked by years of psychosis and depression to form the specific intent to kill.
Finishing her case Thursday, Mr. Andrews' lawyer returned to her client with tears in her eyes. Defense attorney Lisa Middleman had used the final moments of her closing argument to launch a salvo at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, the hospital that refused to admit Mr. Andrews to inpatient treatment May 25, 2008, documents indicate.
Four days later, prosecutors say, the 41-year-old man fatally stabbed his Shadyside neighbor, Lisa Maas.
"[Mr. Andrews] can't make a plan to make sure he eats all month, but he could do one thing," Ms. Middleman said. "He could ask for help. And [Western Psych] took the one thing that kept Lisa Maas safe, and kept all of us safe. They took it away, and they left him in his own tortured, evil, mean world."
"That's a disgrace," she ended, visibly shaken.
A spokeswoman for Western Psych declined to comment on the case. The hospital faces a lawsuit initiated last year by the mother of Ms. Maas, an 18-year-old culinary student.
Testimony closed Thursday in Mr. Andrews' jury trial, before Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Edward Borkowski. The jurors resume deliberations this morning.
Key to their decision are the opinions of dueling psychiatric experts, Barbara Ziv for the defense and Bruce Wright for the commonwealth.
Dr. Ziv testified Wednesday that Mr. Andrews' mental illness was so severe it "impaired his ability to make any reasonable decision, let alone his ability to form the specific intent to kill," necessary for a first-degree murder conviction. Ms. Middleman is seeking a conviction of third-degree murder, a lesser charge for a killing "with malice."
But Dr. Wright testified Thursday that Mr. Andrews' illness did not encompass a thought disorder, which would inhibit his ability to form intent.
Medical personnel noted several times in records from 2008 that Mr. Andrews was thinking logically and linearly, Dr. Wright testified.
"I think he knew what he wanted to do and he knew what he did afterwards," Dr. Wright said.
Furthermore, the way prosecutors say Mr. Andrews executed the crime -- leaving a trail of evidence and making no attempts to evade police -- did not mean he did not plan it, Dr. Wright testified: "A bad plan doesn't mean you can't plan."
In his closing statement, prosecutor Daniel Fitzsimmons built on Dr. Wright's testimony to argue that Mr. Andrews' mental illness did not muddle his guilt in any way.
"The truth is that Terrence Andrews -- not with a perfect mind, not with a mind that wasn't burdened by mental illness -- but ... with a plan and the thought in his mind that he wanted to take the life of another human being, did just that," said Mr. Fitzsimmons.
The mere nature of Ms. Maas' wounds showed Mr. Andrews' fatal intent, he continued. "If a person takes a deadly weapon and does that to another person, what else would their intention be?"