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Closing arguments expected today in trial of Nathaniel Fujita, accused of murdering ex-girlfriend in Wayland

Posted by Leslie Anderson  March 5, 2013 12:43 PM

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WOBURN - Closing arguments are expected Tuesday in the trial of Nathaniel Fujita, who is accused of killing his former high-school sweetheart, Lauren Astley, and dumping her body in a Wayland marsh.

Defense lawyer William Sullivan finished cross-examining a psychiatrist who testified for the prosecution Monday that it was rage, not psychosis, that drove Fujita to kill Astley on July 3, 2011.

After both sides make their closing arguments in Middlesex Superior Court, the jury will begin deliberating.

Fujita, now 20, is accused of luring 18-year-old Astley to his house, telling her to park out of sight and then beating, strangling and slashing her to death in the garage. He is being tried on first-degree murder and other charges.

Testimony began on Feb. 13 in front of Judge Peter Lauriat. The prosecution called 31 witnesses. The defense called two, Fujita's aunt and a forensic psychiatrist who interviewed him at his lawyer's request.

The prosecution's psychiatrist, Alison Fife, defended her opinion Tuesday that Fujita was enraged and not psychotic when he killed his ex-girlfriend and said she did not find credible his reports that he was suffering a major depressive episode in the weeks leading up to the slaying.

“I found his report to be changing in subtle and important ways, to be leaving things out, to be putting things in, to be modifying things, that led me as a psychiatrist to doubt the validity of some of his reports,” Fife said.

Dr. Wade Myers, a psychiatrist called by Fujita’s defense lawyer, testified Friday that in his opinion Fujita was having a “brief psychotic episode” that made him unable to control his actions. In addition, Myers said, Fujita was suffering from major depression, as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy from repeated head injuries from football.

On cross-examination by the prosecution, however, Myers acknowledged that Fujita had not been diagnosed with any concussions before the slaying.

When Fujita's lawyer, in turn, cross-examined Fife on Tuesday, she acknowledged that current science indicates chronic traumatic encephalopathy can be developed in one's teens and can be the result of repeated mild head trauma -- not necessarily concussions. But she said the science is so new, nothing is definitive.

Fife testified that in her opinion, Fujita had the capacity to conform his conduct to the law, to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions, and the capacity to form the intent to murder.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com.

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