Judge dismisses Seguin jury chief — (Boston Herald)

SSRI Ed note: Woman kills her two children under the influence of Prozac. Seguin judge agrees it would be wrong to have a juror who actually knows what the drug can do.

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Boston Herald

Friday, January 22, 1993


The forewoman of the jury in the Kenneth Seguin murder trial was dismissed yesterday after prosecutors argued that deliberations could be tainted because a relative of hers killed two children while under the influence of the controversial anti-depressant Prozac.  Middlesex Superior Court Judge Robert Barton dismissed Shelia Novis-Wolf after prosecutor David Meier argued that there were striking similarities between the Seguin case and the one involving her relatives.

Novis-Wolf last week admitted telling another juror that her cousin’s wife had killed her two children while taking Prozac, the same drug Seguin was taking briefly about a year before he murdered his wife and two children in April 1992.

Last Friday, Barton refused to dismiss Novis-Wolf from the jury after she told the court she had not seen her cousin in years and would not let the earlier slayings influence her decision in the Seguin case.

Meier pressed for her dismissal again yesterday after learning that an article on Novis-Wolf’s relatives had appeared in the February issue of Redbook magazine.

Reached at her Watertown home yesterday, Novis-Wolf said she was disappointed with the court’s action and believes she could have remained impartial in reaching a verdict on the Seguin case, despite the similarities.

“I’m quite disappointed. I felt I was a good juror,” she said, declining further comment.

Novis-Wolf’s seat on the jury will be assigned to one of the 15 remaining jurors, Jill Reilly, spokeswoman for the Middlesex County district attorney’s office said.

Seguin, 36, of Holliston, does not deny he killed his 34-year-old wife, Mary Ann, and the couple’s two children, Amy, 5, and Danny, 7, but claims he was insane at the time of the slayings.

In testimony yesterday, Dr. James Bieber, a psychiatrist who treated Seguin in February and March 1991, said he prescribed the anti-depressant Prozac after the computer software executive complained of depression.

“He struck me as being tense, worried, perhaps perplexed,” said Bieber, who diagnosed Seguin as suffering from a major depressive episode brought on by job pressures and the death of his father-in-law.

Bieber said Seguin did not appear dangerous, suicidal or delusional at the time and never returned for further therapy.

In other testimony yesterday, defense witness Dr. William Stewart said Seguin was in shock and had lost half his blood when he was found wandering in the woods with his wrist, ankle, neck and temple slashed following the slayings.

Under cross-examination by Meier, however, Stewart admitted he did not examine Seguin following his arrest and drew his conclusions from medical reports prepared by paramedics and hospital workers.

Record Number: BHLD46809
Copyright (c) 1993 Boston Herald