A judge ruled Tuesday that the suspected murderer of a Yale clinical fellow is unable to stand trial.
The defendant, Lishan Wang, is neither able to understand the judicial proceedings against him nor to assist in his defense, New Haven Superior Court Judge Roland Fasano said, and has been ordered to spend 60 days receiving mental health treatment in state custody. The ruling applies only to Wang’s mental state following his arrest and has no bearing on his mental state when he allegedly committed the crime.
Yale Law School Professor Steven Duke, who specializes in criminal law, said though a finding of incompetence can support an insanity defense, the two defenses are tested differently and deal with different time periods.
On April 26, Wang allegedly shot and killed Vajinder Toor, 34, a Yale postdoctoral fellow, outside his Branford, Conn., home, before fleeing the scene in a red minivan. Branford police took Wang into custody shortly after, finding three handguns and two ammunition magazines in his vehicle. They also found a picture of Toor, with whom Wang had worked at the Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn until 2008.
Wang will be transferred to the custody of the Commissioner of Mental Health and Addiction Services for 60 days. The court will decide Nov. 29 whether Wang is able to stand trial.
“There is a substantial probability that the defendant, if provided with a course of treatment, will regain competency,” Fasano said.
Dr. Keith Shebairo, a Yale-affiliated psychologist, evaluated Wang twice in the past two months and issued his findings Tuesday, prompting Fasano’s ruling. Shebairo declined to comment for this article.
Fasano said in his decision that Wang is unable to understand the proceedings against him or to assist in his own defense. But that finding does not rule out a trial for Wang.
“Treatment, especially if it includes anti-psychotic drugs, can render an incompetent competent,” Duke said. “When that occurs the defendant can then be put to trial.”
In 2008, Wang was a resident at Kingsbrook, and Toor was Wang’s boss. In May of that year, Toor and two other personnel confronted Wang about alleged lapses in his duties, and ultimately Wang was fired. Just over a year later, Wang filed a lawsuit against Kingsbrook in which he accused the hospital of discriminating against him because he is Chinese. According to the suit, Wang has been a permanent resident of the United States since 2004 and entered Kingsbrook’s medical residency program in 2006. He lives in Georgia and has a wife and three children.
Police also found pictures in Wang’s van when he was arrested of two other people with whom Wang had worked at Kingsbrook.
The day after his arrest, Wang was arraigned and since then has required the assistance of a Mandarin interpreter in court appearances. But according to the New Haven Independent, Wang not only did not require the assistance of an interpreter at his Tuesday hearing, but soon after his arrest, police placed Wang in protective custody because he had told detectives that he might kill himself. In August, Fasano ordered Wang to be evaluated by a court psychologist to determine whether he could stand trial.
Toor was a first-year fellow in the infectious diseases section of the Department of Internal Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. He graduated from the Guru Govind Singh Medical College in Punjab, India, in 2001.