Psychologists counter defense argument that accused arsonist was insane — (The Palm Beach Post)

SSRI Ed note: Man on antidepressants sets fire to churches based on bizarre beliefs, is charged, lawyers debate whether he is insane. Court decides he is responsible.

Original article no longer available

The Palm Beach Post

By Allyson Bird, Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

FORT PIERCE ­ Two psychologists called by prosecutors to testify at Henry Drevermann’s trial Tuesday used plenty of adjectives to describe the accused arsonist.

“Insane” was not one of them.

Psychologists Deborah Leporowski and Gregory Landrum offered similar conclusions from their jailhouse evaluations with 40-year-old Drevermann. Both found him competent to stand trial.

Leporowski said Drevermann seemed “quite polite and responsive,” “of average intelligence” and even “a bit deferential.” Landrum called him “depressed,” “possibly suicidal” and “different.” Leporowski testified that Drevermann took antidepressants but not antipsychotic medication. She said he had problems forming relationships but that he was honest when she interviewed him.

“Mr. Drevermann, in my opinion, is the kind of guy you would call eccentric,” Leporowski said.

Dreverman kept his eyes shut through much of her testimony.

As both sides move into closing arguments today, jurors will decide whether Drevermann should be found guilty of setting fire to Morningside Friends Church on Christmas Eve in 2003 and again on New Year’s Day, and destroying Hope Lutheran Church in a fire just days later. Defense attorney Rusty Akins called a psychologist and Drevermann’s mother for testimony Monday to illustrate that Drevermann should be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Prosecutor Daryl Krauza aimed to debunk the heart of that argument Tuesday. “Let’s get to this whole confrontation with God thing,” Krauza said.

In his confession following the fires, Drevermann told Port St. Lucie police he wanted to confront God and “take one of his eyes.” Psychologist Landrum said, “I’m not of the opinion he believes (God) will appear in a physical form and do battle with him.” Psychologist Leporowski testified that Drevermann did not mean he literally planned to fight God and that people often blame God for problems in their lives.

She said Drevermann knew what he did was wrong. She testified that she would be more inclined to believe he was insane if he hadn’t planned so much.

But Drevermann worked at night to conceal his crimes and tried to throw off investigators by copying someone else’s graffiti.

Both psychologists said an insane person does not behave that way and that Drevermann is not insane.

Leporowski added, “That’s a legal definition.”