Pressly Trial -- Tuesday Wrap-up | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pressly Trial -- Tuesday Wrap-up

Posted By on Tue, Nov 10, 2009 at 6:45 PM

It was a productive day in the capital murder trial of Curtis Vance, with prosecutors resting their case and the defense getting close enough that they will more than likely rest theirs first thing in the morning.

Court again ran late tonight, though Judge Chris Piazza had dismissed the jury early in the afternoon. At issue: hammering out instructions for the jury, which may get the case as early as tomorrow, and the testimony of two psychiatrists brought in by the defense to testify before the judge in an attempt to get him to rule that testimony about Vance's cognitive impairment should be admissable in court before the defense officially rests.

First up was Dr. Daniel H. Grant, a clinical neuropsychologist with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice. Grant testified that he had administered over two dozen intelligence, cognitive and personality tests to Vance over the course of 11 hours. He said that the tests indicated that Vance suffers from cognitive impairment, and has an IQ of 75. Grant said that is lower than 95 percent of those in Vance's age group, adding that Vance suffers from poor vocabulary, poor listening comprehension, has difficulty retrieving words, and difficulty regulating emotion and impulse control.

Next up was Dr. Stephen Greenspan, a retired psychiatrist with a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. Greenspan is considered an expert in the psychology of gullability and foolish behavior, and has done extensive research in that field. Greenspan said he had reviewed the results of the tests administered by Dr. Grant, and found that Curtis Vance likely suffers from significant cognitive impairment. Cognitive impairment, Greenspan said, can make individuals more prone to gullabiliy and suggestablity. "If you look at the history of mental disabilities," Greenspan said, "the word 'fool' is used for a reason."

Greenspan said that while being interrogated, those with mental impairment sometimes invent knowledge of things they didn't do in order to get interrogators to leave them alone. Greenspan said that he had watched the videotaped interrogation of Curtis Vance by LRPD detectives, and while he found it to be a "gentle" interrogation, he said that detectives did use techniques called maximization -- in which they imply they have incriminating evidence that they actually don't -- and minimization -- in which detectives make a suspect believe the crime they're accused of isn't "that big a deal" in order to make them confess.  

After Greenspan and Grant stepped down, Judge Piazza denied the defense motion to allow them to testify before the jury.

Court resumes at 9:30 a.m., with the defense expected to formally rest its case. 

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