Psychiatrist says DeLong has mental disorders

September 08, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

Jason Aaron DeLong suffers from three mental disorders and a neurological defect that would have made planning his mother's murder impossible, a psychiatrist for the defense said yesterday.

Rather, the killing was a release of the lifelong rage Mr. DeLong felt toward Cathryn Brace Farrar because she neglected him and abused him physically and sexually, said Ellen McDaniel, a psychiatrist who practices in Towson.

"There was this outpouring of tremendous fear and rage beyond his control," Dr. McDaniel said. "Jason was unable to control his behavior at the time of the crime."

Mr. DeLong, 19, and Sara Citroni, 18, were charged with the July 29, 1993, stabbing deaths of Ms. Farrar and her boyfriend, George William Wahl. Citroni, who dated Mr. DeLong for a week before the slayings, pleaded guilty to murder in July.

Mr. DeLong has pleaded innocent and not criminally responsible.

In her daylong testimony yesterday, Dr. McDaniel said Mr. DeLong suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, a disassociative disorder and a schizotypal disorder.

She explained disassociative disorder as similar to a healthy person daydreaming while driving to work and later being unable to remember how he got there. Someone with this disorder would do that frequently to escape the traumas in his life, she said.

Some of the symptoms of a schizotypal disorder, a severe personality disorder, are odd or eccentric behavior; a lack of close friends; a suspicious or paranoid personality; odd thinking or speech; and excessive social anxiety, Dr. McDaniel said.

A neurologist, whom defense attorneys expect to testify today, found Mr. DeLong had a disorder in the front lobe of his brain, she said. That is the area that governs speech and movement, and integrates new information with what people already know to create an appropriate response, the psychiatrist said.

"Each one itself is pretty incapacitating," Dr. McDaniel said. "The three together are very incapacitating. They would affect one's ability to function, reason as an adult and relate in anywhere near an acceptable way to the rest of society.

"The four together would cause significant, and that's significant with a capital S, problems with planning on the part of Jason."

In previous arguments, prosecuting attorneys have maintained that Mr. DeLong was a "cunning" thief who plotted his mother's murder.

Dr. McDaniel told the jury she based her diagnosis on her interviews with Mr. DeLong and people close to him. She also said she reviewed more than 200 documents, given to her by defense attorney Luther C. West, that recorded the defendant's history of abuse and his mother's psychological problems.

The jury heard earlier that Ms. Farrar had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, often heard voices, had delusions and was convinced someone was going to brainwash her.

"He was growing up with a psychotic mother, severe trauma, and frequent disruption of his peer group and health care providers," Dr. McDaniel said. "No one was a stable figure in his life to offset in a significant way the skewing of his personality by his mother."

As in previous court days, prosecutor Timothy J. Doory tried to discredit the witness by claiming Mr. DeLong was a chronic liar who invented stories of abuse by his mother and manipulated his counselors.

But Dr. McDaniel refused to agree with Mr. Doory, saying Mr. DeLong was a reliable witness "to the best of his ability."

"Sometimes Jason mixes what's inward and outward," she said. "I don't have a recollection of them [his foster parents] calling him an unmitigated liar."

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