Salvatore Garrasi III knew he was killing his wife, and he knew that what he was doing was criminally wrong when he stabbed her to death, a prosecution psychiatric expert testified today in Garrasi's murder trial.
Dr. Gary Horwitz, a Rochester psychiatrist and forensic medical expert, said that in the legal sense of criminal liability, Garrasi both knew and appreciated the nature and consequences of the confrontation in the couple's Auburn Avenue home.
Defense lawyer John Nuchereno challenged the thoroughness of Horwitz's findings and accused him of putting together a "rushed" report for prosecutors.
But Horwitz said he had no doubt about Garrasi's awareness of his criminal acts.
Garrasi went on trial last week before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma.
He has been in jail since his arrest shortly after his wife, Jeannette, 57, was fatally
stabbed Aug. 2, 1998, in the home where he had killed his 10-year-old son, Salvatore IV, in 1983.
After pleading guilty in that case, Garrasi was sent to a state mental institution but had been a psychiatric outpatient for about eight years before his wife's death.
Nuchereno contends his client is not responsible for his wife's murder by reason of mental disease or defect, in which case he would receive more psychiatric care instead of a prison sentence.
Jury deliberations could begin today.
Garrasi already has testified, claiming he had killed his wife in self-defense.
On Monday, Nuchereno told the judge that Garrasi might want to testify again to rebut Horwitz's findings.
Nuchereno has noted that four psychiatrists who examined Garrasi in 1983 found him not responsible for killing his son, even though he could recount details of the slaying.
But Horwitz told the jury Garrasi once bragged of his ability to thwart law enforcement.
Horwitz testified that he conducted a psychiatric examination of Garrasi on Dec. 30 and reviewed almost 3,000 pages of medical and police records.
He said records from a 1996 group therapy session indicated Garrasi was angry at a local repairman and bragged that "if he assaulted somebody" he could get away with it because "he was mentally ill," Horwitz testified.
Horwitz agreed with prosecutor Joseph M. Mordino that, when he killed his wife, Garrasi, "knew he had inflicted a mortal injury" and bludgeoned her with a wrench "just to make sure."
Horwitz also told the jury that during his examination, Garrasi made "a clear statement" that he knew killing his wife was wrong "and he said to me he expected to be held accountable for his actions."
Horwitz's testimony contradicted the testimony of Dr. Brian Joseph, a defense psychiatrist who said Monday that Garrasi "was not responsible" when he killed his wife because he suffers from chronic, incurable paranoid schizophrenia.
Joseph told the jury Monday that psychiatric experts dealing with Garrasi "should have made sure this didn't happen."
Garrasi, he said, believed someone was out to get him and couldn't appreciate that what he did to his wife was criminal.
Also Monday, Fred Garrasi, the defendant's brother, testified he had given the defendant money for a trip to Canada moments after Jeannette Garrasi was killed.
Fred Garrasi said his brother came to him bleeding from cut on his right hand and a facial wound he said his wife had inflicted.
He asked for the money his brother had been keeping for him, then said he had killed his wife after she slashed him, Fred Garrasi said.