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JURY MULLS VERDICT IN MURDER TRIAL OF GARRASI

A jury began deliberations today on the fate of Salvatore Garrasi III, charged with murdering his wife in the same home where he had killed his son 15 years earlier.

But no matter what the jury finds, Garrasi, 61, is expected to remain in some form of guarded custody for the rest of his life.

After State Supreme Court Justice Joseph S. Forma denied Garrasi's demand for "a chance to enter my evidence," jury deliberations began at about 11:15 a.m.

Garrasi faces murder and weapons charges but claims he was justified in fatally stabbing and bludgeoning his wife, Jeanette, on Aug. 2, 1998.

The panel also was considering whether Garrasi is innocent by reason of insanity or if he killed his spouse in self-defense.

If the panel finds Garrasi guilty of second-degree murder, it then will consider whether he had lost complete control of his emotions during the slaying.

If jurors accept the claim by defense attorney John R. Nuchereno that Garrasi, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was emotionally out of control, it would have to find him guilty of the lesser charge of first-degree manslaughter.

A second-degree murder conviction carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, while manslaughter would mean a term of up to 25 years. If Garrasi is acquitted on insanity grounds, he would face further court proceedings to determine whether he requires indefinite treatment in a psychiatric hospital.

Court officials, however, said that if the jury accepts Garrasi's claim that he killed his wife in self-defense, he faces spending the rest of his life in a guarded psychiatric hospital for violating the terms of his plea in the slaying of his son in 1983.

Late this morning, Forma told the jury that Garrasi had a legal obligation to try to retreat to safety if his wife actually had sparked the fatal encounter.

Tuesday, Garrasi tried to cross-examine Dr. Gary Horwitz, a forensic expert testifying for the prosecution who told the jury Garrasi knowingly killed his wife.

After Nuchereno had finished cross-examining Horwitz, Garrasi rose from the defense table and began calmly walking to the lectern. But Forma ordered him to sit down.

Horwitz testified Tuesday that he is medically certain Garrasi, though mentally troubled for decades, is neither psychotic nor out of touch with reality, knew when he killed his wife that it was legally wrong and clearly appreciated both the nature and the consequences of the act.

Through his attorney, Gar-rasi informed Forma that he wanted to "personally address the jury," but the judge rejected the request.

In his testimony earlier in the trial, Garrasi has said his wife had been unfaithful, squandered their money gambling and forced him to kill her in self-defense after she slashed him with a knife as he tried to get her to go to church with him.

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