WOBURN -- When Nathaniel Fujita strangled and slashed his ex-girlfriend to death at his Wayland home, he felt that his mind was not controlling his body and he could not understand or control his actions, a psychiatric specialist testified for the defense Friday.
“He described not having any feelings at all,” said Dr. Wade Myers, director of forensic psychiatry at Rhode Island Hospital, who interviewed Fujita.
Fujita, 20, is accused of killing 18-year-old Lauren Astley on July 3, 2011, and dumping her body in a Wayland marsh. He faces first-degree murder and other charges.
The prosecution rested its case in Middlesex Superior Court on Thursday with Astley’s mother as its final witness. Myers is the second witness called by Fujita’s defense lawyer, William Sullivan.
Myers said that in his opinion, Fujita was having a “brief psychotic episode” during the killing, but there were several diagnoses active at the time as well.
Fujita was suffering from a major depressive episode that had been lasting for a couple of weeks, Myers said, in addition to a cognitive disorder – chronic traumatic encephalopathy -- from repeated head injuries from football.
At the time of the killing, Myers said, Fujita lacked the ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his actions and lacked the capacity to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law.
Fujita told Myers that Astley had been text-messaging him the day of the slaying. At first Fujita didn’t respond, but then he did, the psychiatrist testified.
Astley went to Fujita’s home and they walked into the garage; he had no feelings of wanting to get back together with her, and they did not touch, according to his interview with the psychiatrist. Astley told Fujita it was strange he didn’t hang out with anybody any more, and “then he had this feeling as though his mind was no longer controlling his body,” Myers said.
Fujita told Myers he grabbed a bungee cord and put it around Astley’s neck and began strangling her. “He said it wasn’t him controlling himself. It was his body acting while his mind was disconnected from what was happening,” Myers testified.
Fujita said he held the cord on Astley’s neck, and she quit moving, according to Myers. Fujita then went into the house, got a knife, and came back and cut her neck, Myers testified that Fujita told him.
Fujita described being aware of what he was doing but not emotionally connected with his actions, “just numbness,” Myers said.
Afterwards, Fujita began to realize the enormity of what had just happened, Myers testified. “And his thought was ‘I can’t let my mother find out what happened. It’s going to break her heart.’”
Fujita told Myers he drove Astley’s car to the town beach, parked it and ran back home. “He felt like he had to get away from Lauren’s body,” Myers said. Fujita then drove Astley’s body to the Water Row area, put it in the water, and drove back home, Myers said Fujita told him.
“He took a shower and went downstairs and watched a movie with his parents,” Myers said. And Fujita also smoked some marijuana, Myers said.
Fujita faces charges of first-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault and battery.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.