Newsday (NASSAU AND SUFFOLK)
By Robin Topping, STAFF WRITER
24 November 1998
A Suffolk County Court judge yesterday released without bail a Huntington Bay man accused of trying to kill his 3-week-old nephew, after the man pledged he would continue to get psychiatric treatment and medication out of jail. Judge Louis Ohlig cautioned Leonard Harmon not to “deviate one iota” from the conditions for his release.
Ohlig said his decision was a “discretionary and judgment call by the court,” based on Harmon’s previous lack of criminal record and his promise to see a psychiatrist once a week and continue taking medication.Harmon, 54, has been charged with second-degree attempted murder in the incident, which occurred on the day of his father’s funeral in July.
Harmon’s sister-in-law has said she came out of the shower that day to find him choking her child but was able to pull the man away. Assistant District Attorney Kevin Gilvary opposed Harmon’s release, saying Harmon should be incarcerated or institutionalized.But Harmon’s lawyer, Edward Vitale of Legal Aid, said a psychiatric report indicated he was not criminally responsible because of his mental state. Harmon has a history of psychiatric problems. That would mean that, if he is convicted, he would be sent to a mental institution instead of prison.Vitale said Harmon does not recall the event and had recently been hospitalized for depression.
He said he had also been given a medication that was not prescribed for him, Prozac, by a family member shortly before the incident. Harmon, a nonpracticing attorney, told the judge his psychiatric stability had improved greatly with treatment and he will continue it while waiting for the case to be completed. “I’ll still be taking it the exact same way,” Harmon said of his medication. He will also be monitored by the county Probation Department.
Meanwhile, the baby appears to be unharmed, and he and his family have returned to their home in McAlester, Okla. Harmon’s 82-year-old mother, Edna Harmon, appeared in court and asked the judge to release her son. She told Ohlig that her son was suffering from depression, saying, “You have to realize this family was in such grief” at the time of the incident.