Filicide and Narcissism; Expert Psychologists Spar Over Delacruz’s Motive as Death Penalty Looms
SAN ANGELO, TX — Twelve jurors and two alternates have been on a journey since Jan. 11 answering questionnaires and individual questions from attorneys then listening to witnesses testify in gruesome detail and seeing photos and physical evidence no one should have to see in the brutal murder of a 5-year-old girl.
All the evidence has been presented and all the witnesses have testified as the state and defense attorneys rested and closed their cases in the punishment phase of Isidro Delacruz’s capital murder trial. The same jury found him guilty of capital murder on March 29 and are now weighing punishment which is really only a choice between two options; life in prison without parole or death.
In the first phase of the trial jurors were subjected to brutal and horrifying testimony and evidence that was at times difficult to watch; pictures of the crime scene, a deceased five-year-old girl in the hospital with gruesome slashes across her throat, the guttural screams of a drunken incoherent blood covered suspect in the back of a patrol car at the chaotic scene, the outcries of a grief stricken mother who broke down on the stand again and again screaming sounds only a mother who has lost a child can make that shook the courtroom and brought tears to jurors and attorneys and witnesses, photos of that little girl at her autopsy showing the huge gashes to her throat that killed her; and today, those same jurors heard a new and disturbing term; filicide.
According to Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law “spousal revenge filicide describes children who are killed to retaliate against or punish the parent's mate.” Prosecutors contend Isidro Delacruz killed Naiya to get back at her mother Tanya Bermea.
Monday’s testimony focused on the suffering of Isidro Delacruz and not the suffering of Naiya Villegas.
Defense attorney’s expert witness was Dr. John Fabian, a golden haired neuropsychologist from Austin who testified, among other things, that he read local news stories, like this one, to keep up with the court proceedings.
Fabian testified that for his $300 per hour, he reviewed Delacruz’s education records, arrest and probation records, video and interviews from the scene and witness statements and tested Delacruz’s IQ and mental state. Dr. Fabian interviewed Delacruz twice in 2015 and again in 2016 and concluded that there were so many mitigating circumstances that came together the night Delacruz murdered Naiya that he called it the ‘perfect storm’ for Delacruz.
Dr. Fabian offered no testimony on Delacruz’s motive or the brutal nature of Naiya’s death. Instead he spent half a day telling jurors Isidro Delacruz suffered mental health issues all his life, his mother dropped him on his head when he was a child, he suffered from depression and alcohol addiction, has a learning disability, and doesn’t function normally under stressful, chaotic circumstances.
Dr. Fabian told the jury all that created a ‘perfect storm’ that caused Delacruz’s actions that night. And he didn’t stop there. Dr. Fabian testified that Isidro’s actions were due to the fact that he was physically abused by his mother, he had mental health issues, he was sexually abused, his father was withdrawn and distant, he had a learning disability, he had ADHD, he was addicted to alcohol and marijuana, he had experimented with LSD, cocaine and meth.
Dr. Fabian wasn’t finished. He also told jurors that Delacruz was ‘shell shocked’ from the traumatic events of Naiya’s murder on Sept. 2, 2014 when he first interviewed Isidro ten months later in 2015. Delacruz suffered from low self esteem and depression. Dr. Fabian even provided jurors with a powerpoint presentation showing that ‘perfect storm’.
Under cross examination by Palmer, Dr. Fabian testified that alcohol could aggravate antisocial traits Delacruz exhibited before the murder including his impulsiveness.
Judge Woodward took a break after defense attorneys finished questioning their own witness. During the break, defense attorneys attempted to be allowed to questions about Tanya Bermea’s domestic violence history as to what was in Isidro’s ‘state of mind’ the night he murdered Naiya.
Judge Woodward allowed the line of questioning. After the lunch break, D.A. Palmer called Dr. Michael Arambula to the stand to rebut part of Dr. Fabian’s testimony. Dr. Arambula was an expert witness in the American Sniper Murder trial. American Sniper and Texan Chris Kyle was murdered by Eddie Ray Roth.
Dr. Arambula interviewed Delacruz in the Tom Green County Jail and reviewed the records of Delacruz’s phone calls, Facebook records, interview videos, health records, education records and other evidence.
Dr. Arambula came up with three opinions; Delacruz had a learning disability, substance abuse, and an antisocial personality disorder.
Upon cross examination, Dr. Arambula testified that Delacruz was thin skinned and narcissistic.
Dr. Arambula testified that Delacruz had boundary issues with Tanya Bermea and that adds credence to his filicide conclusion.
Defense attorneys and prosecutors rested their cases and closed at 4:47 p.m. Judge Woodward then released the jury and instructed them to return Tuesday morning so he could read the charge or instructions to the and then to hear closing arguments from both sides. Once closing arguments are concluded Tuesday the jury will begin deliberating punishment; either life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Because Isidro Delacruz has been found guilty of capital murder, his case is automatically appealed.