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In the Matter of the Commitment of D.T.

December 10, 2012

IN THE MATTER OF THE COMMITMENT OF D.T.


On appeal from Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Sussex County, Indictment No. 07-10-0458.

Per curiam.

RECORD IMPOUNDED

NOT FOR PUBLICATION WITHOUT THE APPROVAL OF THE APPELLATE DIVISION

Submitted October 17, 2012

Before Judges Fuentes and Ashrafi.

D.T. appeals from an undated order of the Law Division filed on January 26, 2011, confining him civilly to an institution for mental health treatment pursuant to N.J.S.A. 2C:4-8 and State v. Krol, 68 N.J. 236 (1975). We affirm.

On November 21, 2006, D.T. shot and killed his brother, believing him to be one of many persons involved in a wide-ranging conspiracy to poison him with organophosphate pesticides. On the consistent testimony of two defense experts and a prosecution expert at a bench trial, the trial judge found D.T. not guilty by reason of insanity. The State chose one of the defense experts, psychiatrist Azariah Eshkenazi, to testify at the subsequent Krol hearing. Dr. Eshkenazi, the prosecutor, defense counsel, and the trial judge all agreed that D.T.'s commitment to an in-patient facility for mental health treatment was the proper course. D.T. now appeals the trial judge's order, arguing that he should have been released with conditions. We affirm the order of commitment.

In October 2007, a Sussex County grand jury indicted D.T. for murder, possession of a weapon with the intent to use it unlawfully, and possession of a prohibited weapon (a sawed-off rifle). The bench trial was held in December 2010 after defendant waived his right to trial by jury. In a written decision dated December 22, 2010, the trial judge found D.T. not guilty by reason of insanity.

The relevant facts are essentially undisputed. The testimony at trial covered D.T.'s mental health history in great detail, including his delusions, his short period of involuntary commitment, and his multiple examinations by psychiatrists and psychologists. The following summary suffices for purposes of the appeal.

D.T., now 49 years old, was once a successful student and businessman. He graduated from college with a degree in economics, along with credits in a number of other disciplines. Following college, he owned a landscaping business, in which he gained a reputation for good work.

Over time, D.T.'s physical and mental health deteriorated drastically. As early as 2001, D.T.'s girlfriend began to notice that he was becoming more and more paranoid. Among other unfounded accusations against her, D.T. came to believe that she was putting poison in cookies.

By 2004, his delusions and paranoia had increased significantly, and he became convinced that a vast conspiracy existed to poison him with organophosphates. Those involved in the conspiracy included his friends, his family, and even a prospective buyer of his home, who D.T. thought had tried to poison him by placing a white powder on his shoulder. D.T. believed that organized crime (in the form of a fictional "Sparta Mafia") was involved behind the scenes in trying to kill him. He obtained a rifle for protection, the barrel of which he sawed off to fit into his backpack and his motorcycle saddlebag.

In the early morning of November 21, 2006, D.T. argued with his brother at the brother's home. Believing that his brother was withholding from him the details of the plot, D.T. shot and killed his brother.

Following his incarceration, D.T.'s delusions expanded to include virtually anyone with whom he had prolonged contact. He was convinced that jail staff were trying to poison him, and that the conspiracy included even the trial judge and one of the doctors who examined him and testified as a defense expert at his trial. At one point, D.T. refused to have his prison jumpsuit washed because he feared it was being contaminated ...


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