Friday, January 25, 2002

Trial halts for mental
exam of defendant

William Kotis stands accused in the 1992 murder of his wife

By Debra Barayuga

The murder trial of William Kotis, charged with shooting his estranged wife, Lynn Kotis, to death almost 10 years ago, has been suspended until doctors can determine whether he suffered from a mental disease or disorder.

Circuit Judge Richard Perkins, at the request of the defense, ordered a three-expert panel to examine Kotis for penal responsibility after the state rested its case Wednesday.

The panel that last examined Kotis in 1994 for penal responsibility concluded that he was substantially impaired at the time of the 1992 shooting, but only one of the three experts was available to testify at his trial.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Maurice Arrisgado said he agreed to the examination because it would be prejudicial to the defense if all three did not testify.

The trial is expected to resume Feb. 6 with the defense beginning its case, but it may be delayed depending on how soon doctors can examine Kotis and submit a report.

While Kotis was found fit to go to trial beginning Jan. 14, since 1994 he has refused additional attempts to be examined for penal responsibility.

Besides determining whether Kotis suffered from a mental disease or disturbance, the panel will also offer an opinion as to whether his illness substantially affected his ability to know right from wrong or control his behavior according to the law -- the legal definition of insanity.

David Bettencourt, attorney for Kotis, said during opening statements that Kotis suffered from an extreme mental and emotional disturbance and believed killing his wife was the only way they could be together forever.

The state contends Kotis killed his wife because she had left him.

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