Expert witness says drugs to blame in sodomy case — (Times Herald-Record)

Original article no longer available

Times Herald-Record

By Oliver Mackson,  omackson@th-record.com

Jan 25, 2005

Goshen – A few hours after the big blackout of 2003, a woman was attacked in her home in the Town of Newburgh. She suffered a severe cut on her head, and she was sodomized. Police arrested her neighbor, a 15-year-old boy.
A neuropsychiatrist and defense expert witness, Dr. Lawson Bernstein, testified yesterday in Orange County Court that the boy, Raul “Ricky” Laguerre Jr., was in the grip of intoxication from medication prescribed by his family’s psychiatrist, Dr. Alfred Ramirez of Middletown.
“In layman’s terms, doctor, would you say Ricky’s brain was poisoned?” asked Paul E. Kerson, one of Laguerre’s lawyers.
“Yes,” Bernstein said. He said that medical records Ramirez maintained on Laguerre were “very, very brief – so brief that they don’t fulfill the standard for a medical record.”
He compared the importance of the records to “flying a plane in a storm. You have to check the gauges, check the weather reports, stay on the VFR beam.”
Laguerre was taking Zoloft, Risperdal and Strattera to combat depression, nightmares and symptoms of attention deficit disorder.
Bernstein, who interviewed Laguerre in jail and looked over his medical records, said Laguerre has no memory of committing a crime on the night the woman was attacked.
Lawyers for Laguerre contend that he wasn’t responsible for his actions that night and that he was acting out a dream while living in a state of hypersexual arousal caused by a bad reaction to medication.
Prosecutor Mike Milza will call his own psychiatrist today to rebut Bernstein’s testimony.
Judge Nicholas DeRosa told the jury that deliberations will likely begin on Monday.
After court yesterday, Ramirez said he didn’t know of any problems with the way he prescribed medication. He noted that the boy and his mother came for follow-up visits after the medications were first prescribed.
“When I saw him and his mother, things were going well,” Ramirez said.
Bernstein testified yesterday that even after Laguerre and his mother complained that he was reacting badly to the medication – months before the crime – “the doctor simply told them to tough it out, this is how the medication works.”

 

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Help Desperately Needed Another Child Zoloft Case  — (Network54)

February 26 2005 at 9:10 AM

At the September FDA hearings I met Raul Laguerre. This very kind soft spoken man from upstate NY had come to learn what he could, to share his family’s tragedy, and to meet other parents in the same position. He sobbed as he told me he had brought his family to America to give them a better life and instead he felt this action destroyed his son’s life.

Just 15 at the time, young Raul, Jr’s experience rings a far too familiar bell – as he began to rapidly have adverse reactions Zoloft, the doctor increased his dose and added more medications.  In the end Raul was taking THREE powerful serotonin reuptake inhibitors: Zoloft, Risperdal and Strattera. The problems the doctor was attempting to address with these drugs were depression, nightmares and symptoms of attention deficit disorder – as if a serotonin reuptake inhibitor would actually help any of those conditions! When we know from medical research that impairment or reuptake of serotonin metabolism produces: horrifying nightmares, depression, mental retardation and Alzheimer’s, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor would clearly only worsen any of those conditions.

Raul and his family were shocked beyond belief when he was arrested.

This is a boy who was a model son, who had never been in any trouble at all before this. And he had no memory of committing this crime. The only recall he had of the incident was a nightmare or what he thought was a nightmare of something like this happening. As you will note in the article below Raul’s lawyers contend that he wasn’t responsible for his actions that night because he was acting out a dream while living in a state of hypersexual arousal caused by an adverse reaction to such an unbelievable combination of medication.

The truth is this boy is lucky to be alive since using just two of these drugs together would have been enough to produce a reaction called Serotonin Syndrome which could have killed him within a 24 hour period. In his case his brain suffered the most toxic effects before his body did causing such out of character, bizarre behavior instead of the multiple organ failure that takes your life with this much too high a level of serotonin known as Serotonin Syndrome.

To the amazement and delight of the defense, the prosecutor’s own expert witness in this case agreed with the defense that the drugs had caused young Raul
to do this. It is almost unheard of that an expert called by the other side would agree so completely with a defense expert. But even more amazing than that
is the fact that the jury then found him guilty!

Of course there is already talk of an appeal. In the meantime we need as many letters as possible going into Judge De Rosa before the sentencing of young Raul Laguerre, Jr. Judges have got to understand what it is they are dealing with so often in cases like this! The more judges that begin to get an understanding of this the sooner this insanity will be stopped. Clearly this judge needs to see that more than anything this boy needs counselling, not more medication!
Letters should be sent to:
Judge De Rosa
c/o Raul Laguerre, Sr.
35 Bauer LN
Newburgh, NY  12550

I have sent out information before on this case which went to court just before Christopher Pittman’s case began.
Dr. Ann Blake Tracy

[Note: in jury trials the judge does not have the discretion to overturn a guilty verdict.  An appeal is only possible if there was some error, including error in instructing the jury – SSRI Ed]