Quintero defense tries to prove insanity

May 5, 2008 5:07:54 PM PDT
The second week of testimony in the Juan Quintero capital murder trial began with a psychology expert on the stand. He says the illegal immigrant was technically insane when Quintero gunned down Houston police Officer Rodney Johnson. Dr. Antonio Puente, a licensed psychologist specializing in neuropsychology, conducted a battery of tests on Quintero twice since the fatal of shooting of Officer Johnson in September of 2006 -- once in March of 2007 and again in March of 2008.

He told the jury:

    "Quintero's ability to understand complex words and form meaning is low. He wasn't clear in terms of thinking. There were deficiencies."
Defense attorneys contend Quintero imagined Officer Johnson to be a threat when he pulled him over for speeding. The result, they say, of head trauma Quintero sustained as a child and a teenager.

The doctor testified how an MRI showed Quintero had brain abnormalities which, in his opinion, explain Quintero's distorted view of what was happening.

Dr. Puente continued:

    "He thought he was going to be killed. He was paranoid about the whole situation. He thought it was over. The end had come and everything he worked for was about to go down the drain."
Dr. Puente said Quintero, who was in this country illegally, was afraid of being deported. He believed Quintero came to the U.S. to escape his low social standing amongst his family, which he says caused the accused killer to develop a great deal of anxiety.

Quintero, he says, equated deportation with failure.

    "Have you formed an opinion of Mr. Quintero's state of mind when he shot Officer Johnson that meets the definition of insane in Texas?" asked the defense.

    "I believe the data suggests he was not sane at the time," answered Dr. Puente.

Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, say Quintero knew exactly what he was doing. A woman believed to be Quintero's mother is in the courtroom listening to testimony. It's unclear if she'll be called to testify.

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