Jury in mur­der re­trial could get case Tues­day

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Pa­tri­cia Doxsey pdoxsey@free­manon­line.com pat­ti­at­free­man on Twit­ter

Jurors in the mur­der re­trial of Ni­cholas Pas­carella Jr. prob­a­bly will be­gin de­lib­er­a­tions Tues­day after at­tor­neys sum up their cases in clos­ing re­marks sched­uled to be­gin at 10 a.m.

The eight-man, four-woman jury must de­cide whether Pas­carella, 41, is guilty of the pre­med­i­tated mur­der of his fa­ther, Ni­cholas Sr., or whether he acted out of ex­treme emo­tional dis-

tress and is there­fore guilty of the lesser charge of man­slaugh­ter when he beat his fa­ther to death with a base­ball bat on Dec. 27, 2014.

A trial in late March and early April re­sulted in a hung jury after more than four days of de­lib­er­a­tions.

In a case that hinges on Pas­carella state of mind at the time he blud­geoned his fa­ther to death with a base­ball bat, jurors in Ul­ster County Court on Fri­day lis­tened to the tes­ti­mony of two psy­chi­a­trists who of­fered con­flict­ing opin­ions about the men­tal health of the de­fen­dant at the time of the killing.

The pros­e­cu­tion says it was a cold, cal­cu­lated mur­der.

The de­fense has ar­gued that Pas­carella suf­fered a pro­found loss of self con­trol after his young boy told him he had been abused by the el­der Pas­carella and au­thor­i­ties were un­able to gather enough ev­i­dence to charge the older man with a crime.

Dr. Do­minic Ferro, the psy­chi­a­trist hired by the de­fense, tes­ti­fied un­der ques­tion­ing by Ul­ster County Chief As­sis­tant District At­tor­ney Michael Ka­vanagh that in notes from in­ter­views with Pas­carella fol­low­ing his fa­ther’s death, the de­fen­dant said once he de­cided to kill his fa­ther, he felt a sense of “calm re­solve”

and that “he car­ried that sense of calm through the events and after.”

Un­der ques­tion­ing by Ul­ster County As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Mar­iAnn Con­nolly, Ferro said that sense of calm Pas­carella de­scribed was re­ally “de­tach­ment,” and that Pas­carella “por­tray­ing him­self as cool in his mem­ory is not a to­tally ac­cu­rate de­scrip­tion of his de­meanor at that time.”

Ferro has tes­ti­fied that Pas­carella suf­fered from post-trau­matic stress disor­der as the re­sult of a life­time of phys­i­cal and men­tal abuse at the hands of his fa­ther.

He has said that when Pas­carella’s 4-year-old son told him Pas­carella Sr. had “touched his peepee and his butt,” it stirred

up mem­o­ries of his own abuse at the hands of his fa­ther that re­sulted in an ex­treme emo­tional dis­tur­bance that led to a pro­found loss of self con­trol, which led him to kill his fa­ther.

Dr. Kevin Smith, the pros­e­cu­tion’s psy­chi­a­trist, tes­ti­fied that he was un­able to de­ter­mine whether Pas­carella suf­fered from post-trau­matic stress disor­der, or PTSD, mainly be­cause he didn’t find Pas­carella’s his­tor­i­cal ac­count­ing of in­ci­dents in his life to be cred­i­ble.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Smith con­ceded Pas­carella ex­hib­ited nu­mer­ous symp­toms of PTSD but said he re­mained un­able to say Pas­carella suf­fered from the disor­der be­cause Pas­carella did not say he

was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing enough of the symp­toms to make that di­ag­no­sis.

Also un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Smith re­jected Ferro’s con­tention that Pas­carella suf­fered from an ex­treme emo­tional dis­tur­bance and pro­found loss of self con­trol, say­ing the de­fen­dant talked about plan­ning the killing and mak­ing sure his wife and young son were set up in an apart­ment be­fore­hand.

“He went there with a goal in mind and com­pleted it,” Smith said.

Smith likened a pro­found loss of self con­trol to a man who killed his wife after com­ing home and find­ing her in bed with his best friend, not a killing that oc­curred 10 months after an in­ci­dent, such as the al­leged abuse

of the 4-year-old.

Ferro tes­ti­fied that Pas­carella’s ac­tions weren’t planned in the tra­di­tional sense, but more were the re­sult of a man who was be­com­ing in­creas­ingly dis­traught over the al­le­ga­tions of abuse of his son, mem­o­ries of his own abuse, his iso­la­tion from his fam­ily and a sense of help­less­ness over the sit­u­a­tion.

“He was in­creas­ingly dis­turbed by his fa­ther be­ing at lib­erty, be­ing es­tranged by his fam­ily,” Ferro said.

“When this ‘plan’ came to him,” it seemed “like the only rea­son­able thing to do.”

The trial re­sumes Tues­day be­cause the court is closed Mon­day for Colum­bus Day.

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