El Jebel homicide trial: Doctor says Amaya was ‘legally insane at the time of the crimes’
Williams Anderson Amaya, the man who fatally shot his aunt and uncle in El Jebel in July 2014, was diagnosed as having schizophrenia after evaluation at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, according to testimony in his trial Monday.
Dr. John Hearn, a forensic psychiatrist who undertakes evaluations at the state mental hospital, said he interviewed Amaya for 2½ hours Nov. 6, 2015. He also reviewed Amaya’s medical records, statements of co-workers and family, and read a transcript of his interview with police after his arrest. Based on those sources, Hearn said Amaya was showing signs of mental illness at least two years prior to the shootings of Eliseo and Myra Lopez.
“It’s my opinion that he had it before, he had it then and he has it now,” Hearn said.
He later added, “He was legally insane at the time of the crimes.”
Amaya was able to tell he was doing something legally wrong, but “he believed there was some greater good to killing them,” Hearns said. Amaya felt the Lopezes had become possessed and that by killing them he was helping humanity and dealing a blow to the devil.
‘Son of Hillary’
Hearn said Amaya was so delusional in the November 2015 interview that it was difficult to obtain basic information about the man’s upbringing. He said Amaya went down many tangential paths during their discussion.
For example, Amaya claimed to be the son of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and he volunteered to take a blood test to prove it.
He also said he needed to grow his hair out to unleash powers that would enable him to “kill Lucifer,” according to Hearn.
Amaya has admitted to killing his aunt and uncle, but he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office maintains that Amaya knew what he was doing at the time of the double homicide.
Reed Owens, one of the public defenders representing Amaya, asked Hearn if Amaya’s changing stories were a “reason of concern.” Testimony over the last week shows that Amaya kept changing his claims — he was Lucifer, he was the son of Lucifer, his aunt and uncle were possessed and carrying out the devil’s work, he was a cousin of Hillary Clinton, he was the child of Hillary Clinton and so on.
Hearn said he believes it reflects the inability of Amaya’s brain to process information. He noted that Amaya’s claims followed the themes of religion, celebrity and espionage.
is he faking it?
Owens also asked if Amaya could have been “faking” his mental illness during interviews by police and mental health evaluators. It’s one thing to try to fake the reported symptoms of schizophrenia, Hearn said, it’s another to carry them out for an extended amount of time. He read a transcript of a lengthy and rambling statement made to police to try to prove his point.
“Just for five minutes try to talk like that,” Hearn said.
The doctor also pointed to Amaya’s hospitalization for three days in 2012 for a mental health evaluation after allegedly threatening his then wife. That was the first “flashing neon light” that something was wrong mentally, according to Hearn. He said it was his opinion that “background delusions” have been simmering for Amaya for some time and “occasionally flare up.”
Under questioning from Owens, Hearn said he wasn’t getting paid as a witness for the defense and that he had no stake in how the jury rules.
“It’s not my decision to make. I’m offering an opinion based on my [training],” he said.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan will get his chance to cross-examine Hearn today. Kirwan also plans to call his own mental health experts to the stand later in the week to try to show Amaya was sane at the time of the killings.
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