Naples Daily News (FL)
June 25, 1998
Author: MICHAEL McCORMACK, Staff Writer
Jumper, 48, is facing a first-degree murder charge resulting from his daughter Amy’s death. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, and defense attorneys hope to prove Jumper was insane at the time of the shooting.
“He could be sitting in the house and if a tractor trailer drove through the house he might notice, but he wouldn’t think anything of it,” Kathy Jumper told jurors.
Kathy Jumper said the day of Amy’s death had been like any other day in the Jumper household. She told defense attorney Jerry Berry there is no way she ever would have left the house if she felt like her children were in danger. She said she returned home from work and saw police cars on her street and knew they had to be at her house. She said she thought her husband had killed himself or tried to kill himself.
During cross-examination by Assistant State Attorney Steve Maresca, one of two prosecutors in the case, Kathy Jumper said she plans to file a civil lawsuit against two doctors from Naples Community Hospital, as well as the hospital itself, because her husband was released days before Amy’s death. Although the suit has not yet been filed, she indicated outside the courtroom that she anticipates filing it as soon as her husband’s trial is completed.
While Kathy Jumper provided jurors with a first-hand account of her husband’s mental health in the years prior to Amy’s death, the question of his sanity at the time of the crime was still in question. Fort Myers-based psychiatrist Frederick Schaerf reviewed more than 700 pages of Jumper’s medical history and conducted numerous interviews with him to form the opinion that he was insane when he shot his daughter.
Schaerf, who estimated he had treated nearly 12,000 patients in his medical career, was testifying in only his second criminal trial. He testified that during his first interview with Jumper, conducted at the Collier County jail in January 1996, he determined Jumper was suffering from mental illness and that he had suffered for many years. He said Jumper is one of 20 million Americans who suffer from severe depression.
Jumper is one of 2 million to 3 million Americans who are bipolar, Schaerf told jurors, which means he fluctuates between periods of severe depression and periods of intense mania.
Schaerf described mental illness as a lifelong disease, not something that will go away with proper treatment. He said the fact that Jumper had gaps of several years without admission to mental hospitals is normal for individuals with his disease. Schaerf also testified that during one of his episodes of mental illness, Jumper was given Prozac, which can have a damaging effect on bipolar individuals.
“I think Prozac tripped the wire that led to these tragic events,” Schaerf testified. “The real issue is what his mental state was when he put the gun to his daughter’s head and pulled the trigger. It is my opinion that he did this under a very, very severe mixed mental state.”
On cross-examination, Maresca tried to damage Schaerf’s credibility because of his limited courtroom experience. He also tried to portray Jumper as an individual who may be lying about his mental illness. Given Jumper’s genius-level I.Q., Maresca argued, it would be easy for him to come up with a plan to kill his daughter and then abuse the system to avoid prosecution.
Defense attorneys are expected to conclude their case this morning with testimony from another medical expert and Jumper’s 23-year-old son, Matthew. Berry would not say if Laine Jumper will take the stand.