Ranteesi deliberations set to begin today — (The Times Herald)

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The Times Herald

By Brian Hamlin, The Reporter, Vacaville

Jury deliberations are expected to begin today in the murder trial of Simon Faeed Ranteesi, a former Vacaville welder arrested in 2002 after his estranged wife, Milia, was bludgeoned to death during an argument outside Ranteesi’s Topaz Circle home.

Following five days of testimony in the Vallejo branch of Solano County Superior Court, prosecution and defense attorneys on Tuesday called their last witnesses and prepared to deliver closing arguments this morning. After that, the case will be in the hands of the nine-man, three-woman jury.

On Tuesday, Ranteesi’s defense attorney, Deputy Public Defender Nancy Dillon, called a psychiatrist to the witness stand to answer questions about the prescription anti-depressant Paxil, a drug that Ranteesi reportedly was taking for roughly a month before his estranged wife was clubbed to death with an 8-pound welding jack.

Questioned by Dillon, Dr. Stewart Shipco said he specialized in panic disorders as well as adverse side effects of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, including Paxil.

Shipco, who previously had studied police and mental health reports relating to Ranteesi, testified that Paxil is most commonly used to treat anxiety disorders and, in some cases, patients using Paxil can become agitated, more depressed, hostile and enter into a state of hypomania.

The latter condition, Shipco testified, is characterized by euphoria and increased energy, but also can lead to “highly irritable, very impulsive, self-destructive behavior.”

Further questioned by Dillon, Shipco said hostility, impulsively and aggression were all potential side effects.

Ranteesi, he testified, could have been adversely affected by the anti-depressant.

Cross-examined by Chief Deputy District Attorney George Williamson, Shipco said he had not previously interviewed anyone who had committed homicide while using Paxil.

“None of my patients killed anyone while they were on Paxil,” Shipco stated.

Jurors were taken from the courtroom while Judge Allan P. Carter explained trial procedures to Ranteesi. They returned a few minutes later and testimony proceeded without further incident.

Closing arguments are expected to begin at 9 a.m. today in Judge Carter’s Vallejo courtroom.