MAYVILLE – “This is a guy who was intoxicated, sexually frustrated and engaging in a vengeful act.”
That is why Jason Wells bludgeoned to death elderly Fredonia neighbor Ruth Fisk in February 2010, according to Dr. Gary Horowitz, a prosecution psychiatrist who carried the bulk of testimony Thursday in the murder suspect’s Chautauqua County Court trial.
Wells, 37, is charged with second-degree murder in the bludgeoning death of Fisk, 81. Horowitz’s assessment of Wells contrasted with that of forensic psychologist Charles Ewing, who testified Wednesday that Wells suffered from an extreme emotional disturbance – “clearly someone who is out of his mind.”
Testimony in the trial concluded Thursday, and closing statements in the courtroom of Judge John T. Ward are expected today.
Horowitz, who said he doubts Wells is suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, characterized the fatal attack on the elderly woman as revenge against his mother and noted that Wells also had “issues” with other women in his life, as well.
“He was connected to the events, and it was a vengeful act of displaced aggression against his mother,” said Horowitz.
He pointed to previous testimony that Wells had strangled a kitten belonging to a girlfriend who had left him – an act that he also recorded on audiotape.
The doctor also said Wells told him his mother left him when he was a teenager.
“The circumstances show a suggestion of a history of early abandonment (by) his mother,” Horowitz said.
“She is backing out of their relationship and encouraging a relationship with (the victim),” he said.
“To me, in these instances, he is blaming his mother for his circumstances.”
The psychiatrist said previously documented visits by Wells to women in a hair salon and the apartment of college co-eds on the night before the slaying demonstrate sexual frustration.
“This is a guy who is a mean drunk and has a history of vengeful acts,” he added. “My opinion is his mental state is that of anger and vengeance.”
Horowitz also testifed that Wells had visited a psychiatrist about a week before the slaying, and that the notes from the visit said Wells answered questions appropriately and was goal-oriented.
He also said that Wells covering up his victim’s battered body with a rug and cleaning his apartment with bleach are the actions of someone who is aware of what he did.
Defense Attorney Lyle Hajdu, whose request for a mistrial was denied, cross-examined Horowitz most of Thursday afternoon.
The jury today is expected to receive instructions before deliberating. Wells’ defense attorney wants the jury to consider a verdict of not guilty by reason of mental defect or disease – or guilty of first-degree manslaughter, a crime committed under extreme emotions.