Psychologists Weigh In On Accused Serial Killer's Possible Mental Disorder

Published: Mar. 23, 2004 at 11:08 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 16, 2009 at 11:30 PM CST
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Have you been wondering what kind of mental defects, public defenders want to search for in accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee? Lee's defense claims he has a family history of mental problems. This is for the case in St. Martinville in which Lee is accused of the attempted rape and attempted murder of a Breaux Bridge woman. In court, Lee's defense attorneys showed which clinical psychologists they want to perform Lee's examination. WAFB's Jennifer Hale caught up with those psychologists to find out exactly what they would look for in Lee and what it would mean legally.

Clinical psychology is the science of identifying and treating mental problems. Attorneys for accused serial killer Derrick Todd Lee say he must be tested by a clinical psychologist because they claim his father and two aunts suffered from bi-polar disorder and psychosis, conditions that can be passed down to younger generations.

"Since it travels in families there is some sort of pre-disposing factor," said clinical psychologist Dr. Marc Zimmermann.

Zimmerman is one of the two experts Lee's defense wants to use. He says bi-polar disorder and psychosis can impair a person's ability to tell right from wrong, but not in every case.

"Everyone who has bi-polar disease does not always lose consciousness with reality. It just depends on the particular individual at the time,"

If a psychologist decides these conditions skewed Lee's judgement, that wouldn't automatically mean he couldn't stand trial. According to the other psychologist who may be examining Lee, Dr. Lyle Le Corgne of Lafayette, if the tax payer funded psychologist who evaluates Lee decides he is not suffering from any mental problems, the defense can disregard that diagnosis and get a second opinion.

Monday in St. Martinville court, Lee's public defender Glenda Huddleston said she believes Lee has shown signs of mental trouble in the past. Specifically, she says Lee was placed in special education classes during school because of some sort of mental disfunction that could have been a form of retardation.