Man who shot daughter’s friend seeks insanity defense; trial delayed — (The Grand Rapids Press)

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The Grand Rapids Press

29 January 1998

The Grand Rapids Press ALLEGAN

Trial of the Fennville man charged with murdering his teen-age daughter’s boyfriend has been postponed until state doctors can evaluate his mental condition. Loren Steenwyk, 41, will undergo a forensics examination, now that defense attorney Frank Stanley said he plans to use an insanity defense.  We believe his (Steenwyks) chronic, long-term alcoholism and use of (the anti-depressant drug) Prozac rise to the level of an insanity defense, Stanley told Allegan County Circuit Judge Harry Beach on Wednesday.

Prozac is a widely prescribed anti-depressant that some critics say can cause violent emotional problems. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled in 1991 there was no need to put warning labels on the drug. Stanley said he is also basing his decision to the use the insanity defense on transcripts of his clients confession to Allegan County deputies. Steenwyk told police he experiences periodic blackouts and lapses in memory, Stanley said.

Before notifying Beach of his intention to use the insanity defense, Stanley met privately at the courthouse with 20 of Steenwyks friends and relatives. He said he also plans to have his client evaluated by an independent doctor. The Allegan County Prosecutors Office did not oppose scheduling of a forensics examination or rescheduling of the trial. Steenwyk faces open murder charges in the Aug. 23 shooting death of Raoul Serrano, 25, of Holland. Serrano was dating Steenwyks 17- year-old daughter, Amber. Witnesses say Steenwyk threw a day-long party during which he threatened Serrano several times. About 11 p.m. Steenwyk shot Serrano in the head at point-blank range with a .22-caliber gun, police say. Steenwyk was in court Wednesday while Stanley argued several motions — including one to suppress his confession — in anticipation of a trial scheduled to begin March 2. Beech adjourned the hearing on the motions at the same time he agreed to indefinitely postpone the trial. Steenwyk, who has been held in the Allegan County Jail without bond since the incident, told Beach he will waive his right to a speedy trial.