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State in Interest of H.C.

June 17, 1969


Polow, J.J. & D.r.c.


On November 29, 1968 the bodies of two young girls, six and seven years of age, were found lying in the woods behind the homes on Chestnut Terrace in Rockaway Township. Both had been severely beaten with blunt objects which had crushed their skulls. There were knife wounds in the body of one. The next day, H.C., a 15-year-old juvenile was apprehended and charged with delinquency for the killing of the two girls.

The factual testimony taken at the original hearing on February 19, 1969 makes it clear beyond question that H.C. did in fact strike the blows which resulted in the girls' deaths. The proofs included State Police laboratory analyses of blood samples from the accused boy's clothing and from the girls, and the statement of the juvenile to the

police (taken with consent of his father under circumstances assuring voluntariness and truthfulness). The juvenile admitted striking the blows and described the circumstances in his statement. The circumstances were related by the juvenile in greater detail to defense psychiatrists, who included those details in their testimony. After committing the acts the boy had left the girls lying where they had fallen in the woods, went home, spoke to his mother in a normal manner, removed his blood-stained clothing, ate with the family, watched TV and went to bed. His parents noted nothing unusual.

Since the factual evidence was substantially uncontested, most of the hearing consisted of testimony by three psychiatrists, one produced by the State and two by the defense. All are preeminent in their field and their testimony is substantially consistent.

Dr. Henry A. Davidson, called by the prosecutor, had examined the boy at the Morris County Youth Center. The examination was in the form of an interview for about an hour and a quarter. There was no discussion concerning the offense charged since the boy indicated he had been instructed not to say anything about it. In other respects, the boy was cooperative.

Dr. Davidson concluded that H.C. is a schizophrenic. He described the juvenile as "curiously apathetic considering the predicament he knew he was in." With no plans for the future and no hobbies he seemed to Dr. Davidson to be alienated from others his age and to display a curious lack of emotional interest in his predicament. He also displayed a feeling that he has enemies and that there are unfriendly forces around him. Dr. Davidson noted no hallucinations but described the general pattern as that of early schizophrenia.

With regard to the ability to know and understand fully the nature and consequences of his actions, Dr. Davidson concluded that the boy had such ability in the "simple

rational sense" as distinguished from the capacity to "grasp, appraise, to evaluate, to appreciate." With regard to the latter, Dr. Davidson found H.C.'s ability to control his actions, to prevent acting upon impulse and to appreciate consequences, to be impaired.

During cross-examination Dr. Davidson testified that of five categories of mental disease, including psychosis, psychoneurosis, behavioral disorder, psychosomatic disorder and mental retardation, psychosis is furthest from the center. He also classified schizophrenia as a psychosis.

Drs. Irving Markowitz and Alvin Friedland testified for the defense. They had examined the boy together on December 18, 1968 at the Morris County Youth Center. Both concluded that H.C. suffered from schizophrenia.

Dr. Markowitz testified that the boy was cooperative during the examination but extremely withdrawn, displaying an "almost pathological absence of any awareness of what we may do for him or do with him." However, he responded to questions freely and discussed the killings. He explained that after going into the woods to cool off by swinging on vines he was interrupted by the two young girls. According to Dr. Markowitz, H.C. reacted as if the girls were the kind of enemies he saw around him in his daily life. He once had beaten up a young boy and as a result of this, according to H.C., friends of the boy constantly picked on him and called him obscene names. He dwelt on this and became preoccupied with it. He described noises in his head and said he heard voices which he associated with his enemies. These voices to some extent compelled him to hit these two young girls.

Dr. Markowitz concluded that H.C. has many of the classic symptoms of schizophrenia. He felt that the juvenile would fit the category of paranoid schizophrenia because of his suspiciousness, his constant alertness to injury, the wariness with which he moves about and his constant preoccupation with avoiding ridicule and with staying away

from possible enemies. However, since he considers paranoid schizophrenia generally as an adult classification, Dr. Markowitz stated that H.C. would more properly fall within the sociopathic schizophrenia classification. He gave the view that H.C. suffered from chronic schizophrenia, a condition already of some duration and likely to continue.

Dr. Markowitz did find evidence of hallucinations in the juvenile's mention of noises in his head and of hearing the voices of his enemies. According to this psychiatrist, H.C. is not capable of trying to fabricate this information, for he seemed not only unconcerned about self-incrimination but in fact pathologically unconcerned.

In Dr. Markowitz's opinion, H.C. was not capable either of differentiating right from wrong or of knowing the nature and quality of his acts. He stated that the prognosis is poor and that the likelihood of bringing H.C. back to reality is remote. On cross-examination, the doctor indicated that the boy does understand the proceedings and the nature of the charge, although not the enormity of it. He also noted that very few institutions exist which would treat a youngster of this kind.

Dr. Friedland, whose practice in psychiatry primarily deals with children and adolescents, concluded that the juvenile had impaired concepts of himself in relationship with others. He recognized some intellectual memory disturbances, secondary psychopathological memory disturbances and signs of a perceptual disorder involving auditory hallucinations. The boy was apathetic, ...

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