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Paluseo said aware of choices
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
NORTHAMPTON - The state's psychiatric expert testified Tuesday that Jennifer Paluseo was not suffering from a mental disorder when she delivered her baby, hid the infant and later talked to police about it.

Paluseo, the former University of Massachusetts student charged with first-degree murder for putting her newborn in the trash after his May 2002 birth in a dormitory bathroom, is back in Hampshire Superior Court on a motion to suppress statements she made to police.

Her lawyer, Terry Nagel of Springfield, contends she was suffering from a "dissociative disorder" at the time and lacked the judgment to decide whether to speak to police.

Nagel called local psychiatrist Dr. Jay Holtzman to the stand nearly two weeks ago. Holtzman, who had interviewed Paluseo within two days of the birth, testified she had a dissociative disorder - loosely characterized as a split between emotional and intellectual awareness.

Dr. Martin Kelly, a forensic psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard Medical School, testified Tuesday that she was not suffering from this disorder and could decide whether to talk to police.

Kelly said his review of all police, hospital and court records in the case found "no element" of the disorder. Paluseo was cogent, sensible and making self-interested choices - such as telling medical personnel, but not police, about the birth, Kelly said.

"She was able to understand her circumstances," Kelly said.

Nothing in the paperwork indicated that she was distracted or confused, he said.

Kelly said Holtzman's diagnosis seemed based on the fact that Paluseo was less upset than he thought she should be.

The hearing, presided over by Judge Bertha Josephson, is scheduled to continue July 16 in Franklin Superior Court.

Kimberly Ashton can be reached at kashton@gazettenet.com.