WOBURN – John Odgren told a doctor he was haunted by images of James F. Alenson staring at him in the seconds after Odgren plunged a knife into the chest of the 15-year-old freshman.
The revelation of Odgren's nightmares drew gasps in Middlesex Superior Court today where Odgren is on trial for first degree murder for killing Alenson inside the bathroom of Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School on Jan. 19, 2007.
Prosecutors contend Odgren planned the killing, but Odgren's defense lawyers contend he was paranoid, delusional, and was mentally ill at the time.
The detail about Odgren's nightmares came as Dr. Alison Fife, a Harvard University psychiatrist, was called by prosecutors to cast doubt on the conclusions by three mental health professionals that Odgren was insane when he killed Alenson.
About a month after Alenson was killed, Fife said, Odgren told a pediatrician about the nightmares, which the doctor noted with a brief description in Odgren's medical records.
" 'James looks at him with knife in chest,' '' the doctor wrote at the time, Fife told jurors.
Alenson's mother, Carman, started to cry after hearing Fife's account.
Fife also said she has spent 30 hours interviewing Odgren personally and has concluded he has mental health issues, but was not insane when he attacked Alenson, whom he did not know.
She also said that when she met Odgren there was no sign of delusional thinking or paranoia that defense experts have testified encountering. She also said that Odgren is today taking the same medications he was prescribed at the time of the attack.
"There was no indication he was having hallucinations or disordered thinking,'' Fife testified.
Earlier today, jurors heard about a conversation Odgren had with his parents where they discussed his future.
"It may sound funny,'' Odgren told his parents, according to testimony at his first-degree murder trial today. "But I'd like to go back to Lincoln-Sudbury because I have friends there.''
Odgren's comment about some day returning to the school surfaced during cross examination of defense mental health expert by Middlesex Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bennett as he tried to show Odgren knew what he was doing when he killed Alenson.
But Montgomery Brower a forensic psychologist who testified as a defense witness that Odgren was insane when killed Alenson said the comment was further proof of Odgren's mental instability.
Odgren was friendless, Brower said.
"It reflects the kind of ongoing clinical problems John Odgren has had – his perception that he had friends was often awry,'' Brower told Bennett.
After Bennett finished his cross examination of Brower, defense attorney Jonathan Shapiro formally told the jury that the defense had completed its presentation and rested.
Brower and two other mental health professionals have told jurors they believe Odgren meets the state’s criteria for being found not guilty by reason of insanity: He had a mental illness or defect that prevented him from understanding the law, and he could not conform to the law.
Bennett has told jurors that Odgren planned the murder in advance, knew what he was doing when he attacked Alenson, and should be convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
On the beat
Columnist Shirley Leung says Boston mayor-elect Martin J. Walsh should focus on middle-class housing. Read more