Thursday, February 19, 2009
Expert: Pigman had "mental disorder"
PASADENA - A psychiatrist who examined George Wood Pigman IV three days after his arrest for stabbing his girlfriend to death with barbecue tongs testified Tuesday that Pigman suffers from a mental disorder.
Pigman was found naked and covered in blood on a rooftop May 7, 2005 shortly after 21-year-old Eimi Yamada, a Japanese exchange student, was discovered dead in her apartment a block away. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Dr. Joseph Ortego, a supervising clinical psychiatrist at the mental health facility inside the Twin Towers county jail, examined Pigman on the morning of May 10, 2005. After first believing Pigman was in a drug-induced psychosis, Ortega later diagnosed Pigman with bipolar disorder.
Pigman, now 27, was committed to the hospital May 9 after he was deemed a danger to himself or others after sitting naked in his prison cell, spitting at prison guards, and behaving aggressively and in a sexually inappropriate manner.
Pigman was agitated and combative when he was first arrived at the facility, according to a report written by the nurse who initially examined him. The nurse believed that Pigman was intentionally behaving "over the top" and wrote that he "seems to be deliberately trying to answer questions illogically," according to deputy district attorney Teresa Sullivan, who read from the nurses notes.
Ortego felt differently when he examined Pigman the next morning. Pigman had been given sedatives
the night before and was calm and able to answer questions, Ortego said. He also firmly denied having any mental illness.
"My impression was...that he was trying to look good," Ortego told public defender Darby Williams, Pigman's attorney. "It seemed like he wanted to look better than he was."
After his initial examination, Ortego diagnosed Pigman with a psychotic disorder that he believed resulted from abuse of methamphetamine or other drugs. Results from a drug screening of Pigman's urine administered that day later ruled drugs out, however.
Pigman was discharged to the jail's general population a few days later but was then recommitted on May 24, 2005 when he was again deemed a danger to himself or others. This time, he was suffering from "grandiose delusions," according to Ortego.
He told Ortego "he was staring at the sun and the more blind he became the closer to God he would become."
"He believed that if he dies, the universe goes down with him, but he can resurrect it," Ortego said.
Pigman also claimed that he had been communicating with President George W. Bush and rapper 50 Cent.
"He was clearly psychotic and he didn't seem to be putting on a show," he said.
After that examination, Ortego changed his diagnosis of Pigman to Bipolar I disorder, a mood disorder characterized by alternating manic and depressive episodes.
Pigman is the son of George Wood Pigman III, a professor and executive officer for the humanities at Caltech. In years previous to the murder, Pigman IV had attended Pasadena City College, where he worked on the school newspaper.
During cross-examination in court Tuesday Sullivan focused on whether it was possible that Pigman was "malingering," or faking symptoms to gain an advantage. Sullivan pointed out that no testing was done to determine whether Pigman was malingering, but Ortego insisted that such testing is rarely conducted.
"I do not think he was malingering," he stated flatly.
"I think the diagnosis was solid," he said later.
Sullivan also noted that Ortego had no contact with Pigman on the night he stabbed Yamada to death and therefore had no knowledge of his mental state while the crime was being committed.
"My opinion was he was in a manic phase during that period," he said.
Sullivan finished the day by recalling Sheriff's deputy Anthony Delaney, who drove Pigman to jail. Delaney said Pigman had already had his defense strategy laid out.
"He said, I shouldn't be telling you this, but I think the only way to fight this is temporary insanity."