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Prosecution grills doctor in Kot murder trial

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Prosecution grills doctor in Kot murder trial
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After three days of testimony from the defense's key witness, the prosecution fires back in the Blazej Kot murder trial. A psychiatrist has played video clips of Kot, the former Cornell student on trial for killing his wife. But as our Tamara Lindstrom reports, the prosecution showed a very different take on those videotaped interviews with the defendant.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- After three days of testimony, Blazej Kot's psychiatrist summed up his evaluation. Dr. Rory Houghtalen said the 25-year-old has a schizotypal personality, making him prone to psychosis. Houghtalen described the longstanding personality disorder as "A fertile field in which the psychosis was planted and erupted."

The doctor said he believes the anti-malarial drug Chloroquine likely caused Kot snap, driving him to kill his wife of just four weeks, Caroline Coffey. Kot and Coffey were both taking the drug for their recent wedding trip to Costa Rica.

But Assistant District Attorney Andrew McElwee raised questions about the doctor's findings and the timeline of Kot's alleged psychosis.

The psychiatrist reported that Kot had delusions of persecution and confusion over his wife's true identity, but McElwee noted that Kot only began to speak of these notions months after the crime.

In the doctor's very first interview with Kot, conducted shortly after the killing on July 19, Kot gave a different rationale for the attack, saying he thought, "Wow, my life sucks. Wouldn't it be nice if something tragic happened to Caroline to kind of shake it up?"

Kot said his wife was irritating him and he needed some space. He said her death would give him an excuse to quit his Cornell Ph.D. program and start a new life.

In that first interview, Kot denied any delusions or paranoia and said he never recalled hearing voices.

The prosecution alleged that it was only after he had read doctor's reports and materials from the investigation that Kot began talking about delusions.

Houghtalen said the reason it took so long for the delusions to surface is because the defendant was too paranoid to reveal them early on, though the doctor said he saw signs of paranoia from the beginning.

During cross-examination, the prosecution questioned the doctor's techniques and pointed out that he is well paid for his research and testimony. The doctor's bill has reached about $30,000 so far.

The prosecution also refuted evidence that Chloroquine may have been a factor in the killing, pointing out that only about one in 13,600 patients will experience psychosis from the drug.

We expect to hear more about that from an expert on the drug on Thursday.

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