Husband says he saw no danger — (The Tribune Chronicle)

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The Tribune Chronicle

April 13, 2002

By RAYMOND L. SMITH Tribune Chronicle

YOUNGSTOWN – The lawyer representing Forum Health tried Wednesday to get John Giancola to admit that he knew his wife was psychotic on the day she murdered their 3-year-old twins.
But Giancola said if he had felt his children were in danger, he would not have left them with his wife.  ”I would have taken her to the hospital,” he said.
Giancola is suing Dr. James Giannini of Boardman and Dr. Mahamad Kahn of Youngstown; psychologist Blythe Robinson of Youngstown; Forum Health Corp. and its holding and parent company, Western Reserve Care System, for its operation of Northside Medical Center in Youngstown, where Annette Giancola was treated. He is claiming negligence in his wife’s care. The case is being heard by Mahoning County Common Pleas Judge Maureen Cronin.
Giancola told jurors his wife was being treated for depression, and her appointment with a psychiatrist was canceled two days before the twins were found drowned March 8, 1997, in the bathtub of the couple’s Canfield home.
Annette Giancola was found innocent by reason of insanity in June 1998.
Giancola told jurors that his wife was first diagnosed with depression Oct. 24, 1996.
In the days prior to the diagnosis, Annette Giancola began telling her husband things he said he knew weren’t true. He also testified that she began hearing voices, which she believed were police and neighbors. She worried that law enforcement officials were going to take her children away, he said.
”I knew there was something wrong with her because of the things she had been saying,” he said. ”I did not know she was depressed. All I knew is she was out of touch. I knew she needed help.”
Giancola, who was on the stand most of the day, said once his wife was examined by health care professionals, she was given a prescription for depression.
”They did not recommend sending her to a mental hospital,” he testified.
Giancola said the prescription seemed helpful in reducing her illusions, but by the end of the year, Giancola described his wife as obsessing about how the children, Rebecca and Jonathan, were not listening to her.
During cross-examination by attorney Marshal Back, who represents Forum Health, Giancola was asked if his wife began exhibiting psychotic symptoms again.
Giancola said he noticed a change in her behavior toward the end of December. It was about that time, he was told, that she had not been taking all of her medications.
Giancola testified he then would make sure she was taking the medications.
Between Feb. 14 and Feb. 18, Giancola became so concerned about his wife’s condition that he would not allow her to be alone with their children, he said.
Back asked whether he told Giannini, her psychiatrist, that his wife’s symptoms were getting worse.
”I told him she was not getting any better,” Giancola said.
Giannini changed her prescription and told the couple to keep in contact with him to make sure she was not suffering any side effects from the drugs, Giancola testified.
Giancola said a March 6 doctor’s appointment was canceled. On March 7, Giancola described the family as having a quiet dinner together, and Annette Giancola slept with the children.
When he got up the next morning, Giancola said his wife was already in the kitchen eating breakfast.
Before he left for work that morning, he said she told him about an article she read in the newspaper about a man who murdered his children.
Later that morning, she called him at work, telling him she killed the children.