Background. I’ve worked on over 100 murder cases, probably 40 of them involving death penalty charges (capital offenses). I’ve worked both for defense and for prosecution. The jurisdictions were in California, Alaska and Federal. The scope of the assessment has been competency to stand trial, ability to cooperate with defense and mental state (mens rea) at the time of the commission of the offense. I have taught at a CEB level about the elements of malice of forethought, premeditation, deliberation and the distinction between Murder 1, Murder 2 and Manslaughter.
My evaluations have been conducted at some of the better penitentiaries including Folsom, San Quentin (on Appellate matters), at various County jails, as well as at my offices when the accused is out on bail.
One memorable case which didn’t begin as a murder case, was my examination of David Carpenter (later known as “The Trailside Killer”) whom I examined at his attorney’s request. The examination took place at Vacaville State Prison/Hospital (California) in a glass enclosure with guards posted outside the glass. At the time I examined him, Mr. Carpenter had committed and been found guilty of a grievous assault and battery with a hammer on a young Asian woman at Presidio, San Francisco, a Federal jurisdiction. He was seeking parole and his lawyer retained me to evaluate his dangerousness. My opinion, based in part on that examination, was that he had gained no insight into the assault which led to his incarceration. His attorney submitted my report to the Parole Board even though I thought it was unfavorable to his Parole request. Ultimately, he was required to complete his sentence to the last day and only then was he released.
Four years later he was convicted of 11 serial murders. Because my report was public record at the Parole Board, and later cited by the District Attorney in his capital case, I am able to mention his case here.