By Joe Bachman
A 12-person jury found Miguel Angel-Oertel guilty of first degree reckless homicide on Wednesday afternoon.
The jury took close to four hours to come to a decision that Oertel was responsible for the death of 47-year-old Theresa Coates, and then the jury deliberated for a second time later in the evening to decide if Oertel was mentally stable at the time of the incident.
According to the defense, Oertel was not in the correct state of mind to properly make sound decisions based on a documented mental illness. Defense Attorney Michael Hughes showed that Oertel attempted suicide at the age of six by trying jump out of a running vehicle, and held a long standing series of visits to counselors and psychiatrists whom diagnosed Oertel with mental illness.
Psychologist Dr. Michael Galley took the stand and stated that after speaking Oertel, he concluded that Oertel suffered from depression with anxiety, but stated that such a condition does not meet the criteria of a “mental disease or defect” for a defense.
Oertel’s mother also took the stand, and described a lifetime of mental illness and issues that Oertel had. She described him as withdrawn, and Oertel was later diagnosed with conversion disorder, which is a condition where psychological stress is shown in physical manners.
Oertel’s mother encouraged him to discontinue use of medication in exchange for a more “holistic approach”.
Oertel was prescribed with Citalopram a month before the Aug. 17 incident, but his prescription ran out and did not refill it. Oertel was also treated in the past with Fluoxetine — both medications are used to treat depression and anxiety. Oertel was also reported to have suffered from paranoia, insomnia and panic attacks.
Defense Attorney Craig Lambert made the argument in his closing statements that mental illness doesn’t equate to a “free pass” when it comes to committing crimes.
At Approximately 6:24 p.m. the jury came back and decided that while Oertel was indeed in a state of mental illness at the time of the incident, he is still responsible to the full extent of the law for the death of Theresa Coates.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jun. 13.