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TRUMBULL COUNTY Expert: Suspect may be insane, but it's no excuse



Published: Fri, June 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The witness has consulted on high-profile cases.

By STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

WARREN -- Phil Mike had been delusional for about a year when he killed Joe Furda, but his motives for the killing weren't crazy, a psychologist told Judge John Stuard.

"Mr. Mike had a rational reason," Phillip Resnick, a professor at Case Western Reserve University, testified Thursday at Mike's trial in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.

The trial was to continue with closing arguments scheduled later today.

The 36-year-old Liberty man is accused of beating and hacking to death Furda, 40, of Youngstown, in a wooded area of Liberty Township last February. He has plead innocent by reason of insanity.

Mike believed he lived in a world of clones, drones, aliens and mind control, said Resnick, who has consulted on cases including the Unabomber case involving suspect Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh, executed Monday for his role in the bombing deaths of 168 people at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City six years ago.

Mike also may have believed the man who he met in a bar Feb. 23, 2000, was a clone, as he told Judge Stuard at his arraignment for Furda's murder, Resnick continued.

Still guilty: But even in Mike's psychotic world, that didn't give him reason to kill, Resnick said.

"He told no doctor that he killed Mr. Furda out of fear because he was a clone," the psychologist said.

Rather, Resnick testified Mike had killed for more mundane reasons -- Furda had given him bad directions as he drove him home from a bar, or because Furda had struck him with the 3-foot long, blunt sword Mike had offered to sell.

"It may have been self-defense, but that is another legal issue," said Sarah T. Kovoor, one of the assistant county prosecutors trying the case.

For a successful insanity plea, Ohio law requires the defendant not only be insane when he or she commits a crime but also have lost bearing on the difference between right and wrong.

Resnick said he did not believe Mike met this standard.

Earlier in the case, a psychologist called by the defense testified Mike's belief in clones had clouded his understanding of right and wrong on the night of the murder.

Dr. Stanley Palumbo from the Forensic Psychology Center of Northeast Ohio said he believed Mike's insanity defense should stand for the charges of aggravated murder and aggravated burglary. Police said Mike took Furda's wallet.

Palumbo did not find the insanity defense applicable to apply to the third charge, carrying a concealed weapon, Kovoor said.

siff@vindy.com




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