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People v. Weinstein

New York Supreme Court
591 N.Y.S.2d 715 (1992)


Facts

The State of New York (plaintiff) charged Herbert Weinstein (defendant) with murder in the second degree. The state alleged that Weinstein strangled his wife and then threw her body from their window on the twelfth floor to make it look like a suicide. Weinstein filed a notice with the trial court, which asserted the defense that Weinstein lacked criminal responsibility for the murder due to mental disease or defect. The notice included different types of evidence that Weinstein planned to introduce at the trial to establish the defense, including a psychiatrist’s opinion that Weinstein was not criminally responsible for the murder due to mental disease or defect. The psychiatrist’s opinion was based on physical and neuropsychological tests, interviews with Weinstein, and other information. The opinion also was based on scans of Weinstein’s brain using positron emission tomography (PET) and results of skin conductance response (SCR) tests. The scans revealed a cyst in Weinstein’s brain and metabolic imbalances in areas of the brain near the cyst. The SCR results showed damage to the frontal lobes of Weinstein’s brain. The state filed a motion to exclude the evidence relating to the PET scans and the SCR results. The trial court held an evidentiary hearing on the motion. The evidence presented at the hearing established that PET scans were generally accepted as a method for measuring glucose metabolism in the brain. SCR results were not generally accepted, but some studies had shown the tests’ success in identifying damage to the frontal lobes.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Carruthers, J.)

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