Two neuro-psychiatrists testified before the judge this week that Philip Chasm’s brain is different from those his age and that this volume difference and asymmetry is often seen in those with traumatic brain injuries or schizophrenia.
Jurors will never hear this information because Judge David Lowy ruled the evidence was prejudicial despite the fact that the defense is arguing for a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.
MRI scans were taken of the 16-year-old’s brain this year and analyzed by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania. They found that when compared to 61 other 15 to 17 year olds he had indications of schizophrenia. Dr. Ruben Gur and Dr. Theodore Satterthwaite acknowledged that scans cannot in and of themselves diagnose someone.
In addition, Chism committed the crime at the age of 14 and at the time, no scans were taken.
“The MRI of the defendant’s brain in 2015 is of extremely limited probative value as it relates to the defendant’s mental state … in October 2013,” Lowy said.
Dr. Richard Dudley will testify for the defense that Chism suffers from an unspecified psychosis.
“The issue is whether the defendant has a mental disease or defect, and we have an expert who says he suffers from a psychotic disorder, and this [MRI imaging] is evidence that supports this diagnosis,” defense attorney Denise Regan said.
Assistant District Attorney Kate McDougall wanted the evidence barred calling it a “bomb.”
“We’re going to throw the word [schizophrenia] around the courtroom and throw up brain scans and act like the jury isn’t going to go there,” she said.
The judge agreed stating that “the inference the jury was asked to draw…is that the defendant has schizophrenia…[which] is simply an impermissible inference…”