Rakowitz attorneys call final witness to stand in sanity trial
By Tien-Shun Lee
Jurors walked in smiling and joking on the second day of testimony by a clinical psychologist who was the last witness called to the witness stand by attorneys for Daniel Rakowitz, the so-called Butcher of Tompkins Sq., whose trial has dragged on for over one month. What exactly the joking was all about wasnt clear, and neither was the testimony.
Rakowitz, 43, is going through his second sanity trial so that jurors can decide if he is not dangerous and is sane enough to be transferred from a maximum-security hospital to another secure facility that could eventually lead to him being moved to an unlocked halfway house.
In his 1991 criminal trial, Rakowitz was found not guilty by reason of insanity of killing his roommate and girlfriend, Monica Beerle. Beerle was butchered into pieces and her remains were boiled on Rakowitzs stovetop, packed in kitty litter and multiple layers of Hefty bags and eventually checked into a Port Authority locker inside a duffel bag.
On Monday, state attorney Nancy Hornstein subjected Dr. Dolores Nicoll to longwinded questions during cross-examination as notes were passed back and forth from the witness stand to the attorneys table.
Were you contacted before you got subpoenaed [to testify], yes or no? asked Hornstein.
Nicoll responded that she could not answer whether or how many times she had been contacted.
The question was really quite simple, Hornstein pressed.
Maybe to you, Nicoll responded.
Rakowitzs attorney Don Graham rested his forehead on the table as Nicoll looked through notes from Kirby Forensic Psychiatric Center, the maximum-security hospital out of which Rakowitz hopes to be transferred.
Now retired, Nicoll worked at Kirby for three years, and in the state system for 18 years. A thin woman with large glasses, Nicoll gave relatively short answers and was at times silent on the witness stand.
During a break called by Justice Donna Mills, Nicoll called Hornstein crude and rude.
She was like the bad witch of The Wizard of Oz, said Nicoll, as she imitated Hornstein shaking her index finger at the witness.
Closing arguments are expected to be made by Graham, and then by state attorneys following Nicolls testimony. The jury will then deliberate and deliver a verdict.