State medical professionals testified in favor of forcibly administering antipsychotic medication to alleged murderer Lishan Wang in a New Haven Superior Court hearing Monday afternoon.
Wang is charged with the fatal shooting of former Yale-New Haven Hospital postgraduate fellow Vajinder Toor on April 26, 2010 and the attempted murder of Toor’s wife. In April of this year, the New Haven Superior Court deemed Wang incompetent to stand trial based on psychiatric evaluations by state medical professionals. Psychiatrists found that Wang suffers from paranoia, persecutory ideation — a delusional condition in which a person believes he is being persecuted — as well as delusions and depression. They also found that Wang regularly makes statements that suggest grandiose thinking, a symptom often seen in bipolar or schizophrenic patients. Following the April ruling, Wang began receiving treatment at the Connecticut Valley Hospital, as doctors sought to restore his competency. In September, the court appointed nurse Gail Sicilia of the Connecticut Mental Health Center as Wang’s health care guardian. Sicilia filed a report in late October on whether prescribed medication would restore Wang to competency, thus allowing him to stand trial. Alongside a doctor from Connecticut Valley Hospital, Sicilia testified Monday that administering olanzapine and ziprasidone would help treat a number of Wang’s psychiatric disorders, the Hartford Courant reported.
But Wang’s defense attorney, New Haven Chief Public Defender Thomas Ullmann, contested the state’s argument that forcibly administered medication could restore Lishan Wang to competency. Ullmann said the state had not sufficiently proved that Wang needs medication for trial. At the end of the hearing, Judge Thomas O’Keefe Jr. extended the case to Nov. 18, giving Wang and his defense attorney 10 days to submit an argument that will oppose medication.
“We oppose the appointment of a health care guardian, and we oppose any court-ordered forced medication,” Ullmann told the News in September.
Sicilia also testified that she had met with Wang four times to discuss his medical plan, but Wang resisted conversation, according to the Courant. She added that no record exists of Wang taking medication for mental illness, and that Wang “absolutely does not want medicine,” the Courant reported.
Kate Stith, a criminal law professor at the Yale Law School who is familiar with the case, said O’Keefe is more likely to order involuntary medication of the defendant if the state can prove that it serves a medical need beyond making Wang competent to stand trial.
Stith said though the judge has “a fair amount of discretion” in the decision, O’Keefe would need to take into consideration conditions such as whether Wang poses a danger to himself or others, or if Wang is only rejecting medication in order to delay trial.
During the Monday hearing, Ullmann said that side effects of the antipsychotic medication — such as hypertension and hyperglycemia — could prevent Wang from communicating with his lawyers and aiding his own defense, the Courant reported.
Wang had defended himself in court until April, when O’Keefe ruled that Wang was unable to stand trial. Subsequently, Wang was no longer allowed to serve as his own defense.
Since then, Wang has repeatedly attempted to regain his right to self-defense, according to court documents. In a letter to Ullmann in September, Wang said that he intends to fight for his right to defend himself in court.
“This is a serious case and I need to fight for my freedom, life, family and name,” Wang wrote to Ullmann. “It is all about business. Nothing is personal.”
Wang filed requests in September and October for a second medical opinion, declaring that he was not schizophrenic. He urged the court to exercise caution before accepting “one-sided allegations” about him from medical professionals. During the April hearing this year, Wang cross-examined the experts who had submitted the report that expressed his incompetency.
Wang’s bail is set at $900,000, cash only.