JUDGE UNSWAYED BY WIFE KILLER’S PROZAC DEFENSE — (Post-Tribune)

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Post-Tribune (IN)

March 17, 1993

Author: Bill Dolan, Staff writer

The lawyer of a Highland man who killed his wife suggests that Prozac, a controversial anti-depressant drug, played a role in the crime.

Lake Superior Court Judge James L. Clement, who sentenced defendant Gregory Ellis to 30 years in prison Tuesday, blamed alcohol and a violent temper that Ellis had well before he began taking the drug.

The debate over the drug comes two years after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration declared Prozac safe in the face of complaints and lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, Eli Lily Co. of Indianapolis.

Ellis, a 31-year-old meat cutter, still appears baffled over the homicide. ”I still can’t believe this is happening,” Ellis said before he was led off to prison.

Police said Ellis stabbed his wife, Margaret Ellis, 27, six times – twice in the heart – during a Jan. 4, 1992, domestic dispute at their home in the 3400 block of Highway Avenue.

He killed her in front of her horrified parents, Joseph and Margie Hanusin, who were there to help evict Gregory, who had verbally and physically abused her during a rocky nine-year marriage.

Public Defender Ihor Alexander Woloshansky said his client suffered from manic depression and doctors prescribed a number of medicines, including Prozac.

Ellis testified Tuesday he stopped taking the drug once after recurring nightmares about being buried alive, but resumed it because he felt his depression returning.

He said that the day of the crime, “I was acting like a maniac.” He said he blacked out during the killing and stabbed himself after hearing a voice telling him to take his own life.

Woloshansky asked the judge to examine a scientific report on allegations linking Prozac to suicide and violent behavior.

Clement and Deputy Prosecutor James Olszewski said that Woloshansky’s Prozac defense didn’t explain his client’s other flaws.

Clement pointed to the defendant’s admission he was once drinking a case of beer a night. “You weren’t much of a father or a husband,” Clement said.

Olszewski said Ellis held his wife in such low esteem that a few days after the killing, he called his work place to find out if he had won a Super Bowl bet.

The crime continues to have consequences for the Ellis’ daughter, Andrea, 9, and son, T.J., 5.

Sheila Dewinter, a close friend of the slain woman, said the children, who are living with their maternal grandparents, are frightened their father will one day return.

Memo:  THIS ELECTRONIC VERSION MAY DIFFER SLIGHTLY FROM THE PRINT VERSION.
Dateline:  CROWN POINT
Record Number:  9301060730