Tuesday, May 14, 2002

Alleged gunman
said to be in mental
control during killing

By Treena Shapiro

William Kotis' mental capacity was not substantially impaired on the night he allegedly shot his estranged wife to death with a shotgun, a clinical psychologist testified yesterday.

Richard Kappenberg said Kotis knew right from wrong and was able to control his actions, based on the events leading up to the 1992 shooting of 29-year-old Lynn Kotis.

William Kotis is charged with second-degree murder, kidnapping and terroristic threatening. He faces life with the possibility of parole if convicted.

For Kotis to be found not guilty by reason of insanity, the defense would have to prove that he suffered from extreme mental and emotional disturbance that led him to lose control of his rational thought.

Kappenberg said Kotis displayed rational thought when he removed the shotgun from the back seat of his car, chased after his wife as she was running away from him and managed to fix the gun after it jammed. He also displayed rational thought when he continued shooting her because "he felt sorry and wanted to put her out of her misery."

Kotis had talked about his plans for a murder-suicide for more than a month before Lynn was shot. "This is something that he wanted to have happen," Kappenberg said.

Under cross-examination by Kotis' attorney David Bettencourt, Kappenberg said Kotis was under stress and distressed, but still rational, organized and able to make choices. "We may not agree with them, but that does not necessarily make them irrational," he said.

Kotis repeatedly interrupted Kappenberg's testimony and in one outburst repeatedly hit his head against the table and wall and begged a state deputy sheriff to kill him.

Kotis later told the court it was because the sheriff was giving him "bad vibes."

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