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NEW MENTAL TESTS ORDERED FOR MAN HELD IN WIFE'S SLAYING

Over prosecutors' objections, a judge Friday ordered another battery of psychiatric tests for Sal Garrasi, a mentally troubled former Buffalo firefighter, and his latest lawyer indicated he will try to get Garrasi's impending spousal-murder trial shifted out of Erie County.

State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma directed that a new set of mental examinations be conducted on Garrasi, 60, after attorney John R. Nuchereno spoke of "difficulties" he has been having in preparing a possible insanity-based defense.

With Garrasi -- who was found mentally fit for trial late last year after an initial set of tests ordered by Forma -- tentatively slated to stand trial here Oct. 18, Nuchereno said he will ask higher courts to transfer the case to Cattaraugus or Chautauqua counties.

He said potential jurors there are less likely to be aware of Garrasi's history of psychiatric problems and family violence.

A former mental patient, Garrasi has been jailed the past 13 months for allegedly fatally stabbing his 57-year-old wife Jeannette on Aug. 2, 1998, in the same Auburn Avenue home where he fatally shot their 10-year-old son, Salvatore IV, in 1983.

Garrasi, sent to a state mental institution after pleading innocent by reason of insanity in his son's murder, has been a psychiatric outpatient for about the last eight years.

Garrasi told the judge Friday that he was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1991 but was rehospitalized again for about 40 days last year for psychiatric problems, getting released from the Erie County Medical Center in mid-June 1998.

Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Clark and prosecutor Joseph M. Mordino said they will oppose Nuchereno's efforts to get the case shifted out of Buffalo.

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