Alleged murderer Lishan Wang’s case took another step forward Tuesday when the Connecticut Supreme Court argued in favor of the trial’s court decision to forcibly medicate the defendant.
Wang faces a total of seven charges, all related to the murder of Yale New Haven Hospital postgraduate fellow Vajinder Toor in Branford, Connecticut on April 26, 2010. Wang had worked for Toor as a resident at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in New York City. They had several work-related differences and Wang blamed Toor of falsely accusing him of acting in an unprofessional manner and neglecting his duties, according to Wang’s testimony in previous court proceedings. Wang currently faces charges for attempted murder, illegal possession of weapons and carrying pistols without a permit.
Wang’s case has been interrupted several times since he was declared incompetent to stand trial in 2010, restored to competency in 2011 and later declared incompetent once more in April 2015. After the second finding of incompetency, the trial court conducted evidentiary hearings, which determined that Wang should be forcibly medicated to competency. The state Supreme Court’s decision was argued before a panel consisting of Chief Justice Chase Rogers and Justices Richard Palmer, Peter Zarella, Dennis Eveleigh, Andrew McDonald, Carmen Espinosa and Richard Robinson.
Wang’s next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 10.
Wang filed an appeal opposing the decision several months later. In a decision released Sept. 13, the state Supreme Court declined the appeal.
Mark Cotterell, the leading psychiatrist in Wang’s case, testified in the second competency hearing. He met and evaluated Wang from 2010 to 2011 during Wang’s first admission to Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital to determine if he was competent to stand trial and again in April 2015 when Wang was sent back for re-evaluation. Cotterell reported in 2015 that Wang suffered from “unspecified schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorder.”
“In summary, we conclude that the trial court correctly determined that it is substantially likely that forced medication will restore the defendant’s competency to stand trial on the basis of Cotterell’s testimony that the probability that the recommended medications will be effective is greater than 50 percent,” Palmer wrote in his opinion Tuesday.
Cotterell also testified that the use of certain medications would restore Wang to competency. Cotterell also said the less intrusive method to restore Wang to competency would be for him to stay in Whitting.
Gail Sicilia, a lecturer at the Yale School of Nursing, was assigned as Wang’s guardian in compliance with the general statutes that require the court to appoint a health care guardian. In the Tuesday opinion, the court recognized that her observations were consistent with Cotterell’s first diagnosis, leading it to pursue the recommendation that Wang be treated with antipsychotic medications. In her testimony in October 2015, Sicilia said the medications would not only restore him to competency but also benefit his general well-being. She said Wang’s “delusions affect how he’s functioning” and that with said medication he would be able to “go about his daily living … [and] function in a higher level.”
Yale Law School criminal law professor Kate Stith said in court in September 2015 that forcible medication is not unconstitutional, but is a measure that would only be taken in extreme cases where there is certainty of a positive outcome. In the Tuesday opinion, the state Supreme Court echoed her argument, stating that forcible medication can be used only where there is medical certainty that said treatment will restore the defendant into competency and where intrinsic state’s interests must be upheld. A “reasonable degree of medical certainty” was defined as cases in which restoration to competency is more likely to happen than not, according to Palmer’s judicial opinion.
Cotterell said during an evidentiary hearing that the medications prescribed would have a 55 to 70 percent chance of restoring Wang to competency. When taken into consideration with Sicilia’s recommendation, the state Supreme Court concluded that the trial court had correctly determined in 2015 the existence of clear and convincing evidence of the substantial likelihood that the medications would restore Wang to competency.
Wang began his residency in Kingsbrook in 2006.