Abuse began before DeLong's birth, witness says

September 09, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

The abuse of Jason Aaron DeLong by his mother began before he was born, a psychiatric social worker testified yesterday.

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

Mr. DeLong, on trial on first-degree murder charges, has pleaded innocent and not criminally responsible.

The psychiatric social worker, Dr. Jerome G. Miller is founder of the National Center for Institutes and Alternatives, a private, nonprofit organization in Fairfax County, Va. He detailed a history of physical and sexual abuse and Satanic rituals that began before Mr. DeLong was born.

Dr. Miller said he reviewed boxes of testimony from teachers, other social workers, physicians and psychologists who had examined Mr. DeLong before the killing.

Dr. Miller said that Mr. DeLong was "marked from the womb" by his mother's behavior. In the ninth month of her pregnancy, Ms. Farrar "basically jumped up and down for a day to make her water break and ensure a Friday the 13th birth," he said. The infant was born Dec. 13, 1974.

When Mr. DeLong was a child, his mother "ritualistically donned a death's head mask, stripped him and beat him," Dr. Miller said. "She blamed a 9-year-old Jason for her [second] baby's death. Jason came to believe he was responsible for the stillbirth and tried to drown himself in the bathtub."

Dr. Miller interviewed Mr. DeLong several times at the Carroll County Detention Center after the slayings and developed "a clinical picture of the patient's situation and a background of his social history."

He gave nearly an hour of detail on the chronic neglect and severe abuse that the infant and toddler endured and the sexual abuse that began when he was 8 years old. The mother frequently forced her young son to share her bed.

He said in his examinations, he found a history of "gross physical abuse, which began early and continued. He was drawn into his mother's psychotic world."

"Never have I done a history with as much material, going back 15 years," Dr. Miller said. "I have done many cases like this, but never have I seen so much corroboration of sexual abuse, which was clearly a major issue for many years."

Dr. Miller was the third witness called by the defense yesterday in an effort to prove Mr. DeLong was not criminally responsible for murder.

"These are witnesses who have diagnosed him with mental disorders," said Catherine Flynn, Mr. DeLong's public defender.

Dr. Thomas M. Hyde, a behavioral neurologist with the National Institute of Mental Health, testified yesterday on how damage to the brain may produce abnormal behavior and gave his assessment of Mr. DeLong's neurological status.

He found evidence of "profound and lifelong" developmental brain damage and "moderate and significant" frontal lobe dysfunction, which is permanent. The brain's frontal lobe "is its executive function and regulates the rest of the brain functions," he said.

"Many factors from pre-natal through teen years could produce the abnormalities," said Dr. Hyde, who detailed Ms. Farrar's alcohol abuse during her pregnancy and Mr. DeLong's suicide attempts and alcohol and inhalant abuse during his teens.

People with the dysfunction are "more prone toward crime" and have a "hard time functioning without an exterior regulation of behavior."

Frontal lobe damage impairs judgment, and makes it difficult to control impulses and regulate emotions, he said.

When Dr. Patricia J. Lackey, a clinical psychologist, evaluated Mr. DeLong in March to assess his competency to stand trial, she found evidence of disassociative behavior -- "a symptom not unexpected given his history of extreme abuse," she said yesterday.

Disassociation is often used by abused children, who "escape inwardly when they can't escape physically," she said.

After Dr. Lackey's examination, Mr. DeLong was transferred to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital for the criminally insane for further evaluation.

.` Testimony will continue today.

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