Psychology & Psychiatry

Chronology :

The general practitioner who examined Jose Palacios Garza the day of the assassination mentions in his report the possibility that the suspect may suffers from a schizoid personality disorder. The defense lawyer used this assumption as a basis to request, on October 9, an emergency psychological evaluation. Although the prosecutor could have blocked this request on the basis that the physician is not a psychiatrist and thus, cannot deliver psychiatric opinion, he let it go… every time he could.

Thereafter, judge, prosecutor and lawyers guaranteed us on several occasions it was impossible for the assassin to obtain such an evaluation. In Mexico, the prisoner has to pay for it. Since he was known as an orphan without resources, it made it impractical. Moreover, this was the only way that made it possible for assassin to possibly escape justice.

On October 23, the judge publicly declares on Tv Isla Mujeres that the assassin will get his evaluation. The judge clearly states that if recognized criminally insane, it can lead to pure and simple acquittal. Being back in Canada, it will take us several days before obtaining the answer to the very simple question: “who pays for this evaluation?” The answer is simple, the Mexican government. Just like in other countries, it is current practice to evaluate the health condition of a prisoner if there is a notable deterioration. A request for evaluation, under the terms of article 458 of the CPPQR, was made directly by prison staffs, justifying a financial intervention of the State. This opened Pandora’s Box. Without this request, the assassin could have been sentenced as soon as December 17, 2009.

Dissatisfied with the results of the evaluation, the defenses request a second one. This time, it will be a perito psychologico (expert in psychology) of its choice. Without surprise, this evaluation gives different conclusions, much more favorable to the theories put forward by them. This brings the need for a meeting between the two experts. If the experts are unable to get at a consensus on the diagnosis during this meeting, a third opinion, psychiatric this time, will be requested. If a consensus is reached, the phase of first instruction (lawsuit) is launched, in theory that is.

On January 27, the Human Rights Commission of Mexico (CDH) takes the defense of the assassin. The latter ask for, and obtain, an exam of the physical state of the assassin’s brain. More specifically, an axial tomography of brain (CAT Scan). If there is an inflammation of these lobes, he will be considered as having psychiatric problems.

This could have heavy consequences: from a reduction of the sentence by 2/3 to a suspension of the proceedings for an undetermined period, thus a technical acquittal. In the latter, the prisoner is sent to a civil psychiatric institution. An institution without units adapted for the detention of dangerous criminals. The process could begin again when he would be considered fit to stand trial, if he don’t escape of course. This would also suspend the extradition procedures, because Mexico cannot extradite a person who is under a legal process.

We did request the support from the various Mexican organizations for the defense human rights and for the defense of the women’s rights, without any success. In Canada… no one can help us either: our mother had the bad idea to go get murdered abroad.

On May 20, after three missed meetings, the two experts in psychology meets in front of the judge, the prosecutor, lawyers, and the defendant as prescribed in December. The axial tomography was carried out and came back negative (his brain is completely normal from a physical point of view). The experts agree and reach a unanimous verdict: the assassin does not have any psychiatric issues. He has an antisocial personality disorder. The judge asks however for a third opinion, psychiatric this time, to assess the level of dangerousness of the killer. This third examination was not carried out yet. Moreover, the case showed this can still be diverted to make it possible for the authorities to give a verdict of psychiatric disorder, with the consequences presented before. The same judge assured us that if the expert agreed, the case would go to the trial stage.

The legal definition of criminally insanity in Mexico was not assessed during the psychological evaluations. We made several requests to the prosecutor and the judge to request formally the opinion of the experts concerning this definition. Although they were more than justified, these requests were systematically dismissed.

On April 7, we agreed with the judge to keep the information concerning the procedures regarding the mental state of the killer confidential. On May 26, the judge went public to claim the exact opposite of the psychological results from the meeting of May 20. On May 30, our lawyer answered on our behalf in the local Medias Following this situation, we allow ourselves to publish here the information already disseminated in Mexico, in addition to some relevant details.

Psychological precision:

In Mexico, there was much confusion between schizoid personality disorder and schizophrenia. The first being a behavioral issue, and the second, a mental disease, two extremely different conditions. In his interview of May 26, 2010, the judge mentioned schizophrenia, again.

The conclusions of the most recent studies are clear. In the Schizophrenia Bulletin of the prestigious Oxford University, published on October 12, 2009, a meta-analysis reveals that there is one chance out of 14.3 million that a schizophrenic person kills a stranger. Generally, the victims are members of their family.

Usually, the condition of the murderer at the time of the killing includes confusion and amnesia because of his state of psychosis at the time to perpetrate its gesture. Let us recall that Jose Palacios Garza premeditated, out of any doubt, the murders of Laura Palacios, his mother, and of Renee Wathelet. The following facts are also to take into account:

In the case of Laura Palacios:

  • He bought the hammer a day before the murder.
  • He got the necessary chemical to burn his mother before the murder.
  • He fled the scene of crime.
  • He went to take a shower. He entered his apartment with clothes clean of blood, which implies that he probably had replacement clothes with him. It is credible to assume that to strike somebody on the cranium with more than ten blows with a hammer should leave some traces on the clothes.
  • He changed country in the hours following the carnage.
  • Once in Mexico, he immediately ceased using its bank cards and went “off the grid”.
  • He was aware his mother died since the “Mrs. Wathelet’s good friend” gave us this information which she obtained from his mouth. However, only the death of her, not the murder.
  • When his family went to the Isla Mujeres prison on February 26 and asked to meet him; he understood who they were; he refused to meet them and fell into a raging anger which lasted nearly one week.

In the case of Renee Wathelet:

  • Witnesses declared to have seen it in the habitation complex Fovisste at 7:30 a.m., then at 9 a.m. the morning of the murder.

  • He answered in a coherent and understandable way when people knocked on the door while he was stabbing his victim.
  • He took time to go to wash his hands and his knife before leaving the premises.
  • He fled the scene of crime.
  • He hid his knife at the sight of the police patrol.
  • He admitted to the arresting officers that he killed a woman and slit her throat.
  • When the media asked him why he killed her, he understood the question, therefore are gesture. He provided a plausible and coherent explanation.
  • During his psychological evaluations, several weeks later, he gave details omitted at the time of its deposition. These details are coherent with the evidences collected at the crime scene

These facts make it possible to establish solids foundations as for the comprehension of the illegality of its actions and the absence of the symptoms commonly observed during murder made by individuals really afflicted with mental disease or psychiatric affliction. Amnesia is completely absent. The two evaluations, mainly made up of standardized tests, reveal that the assassin is characterized by an antisocial personality disorder. This is typical for 60% to 85% (depending on the statistical sources) of the inmates.

The evaluations also reject that he could present any form of psychosis at the time to make his actions. The characteristics enumerated in these evaluations are sound with the characteristic of sociopath/psychopath. The PCL-R (psychopathy check list revised) test was not administered. The conclusions are however clear, he is a dangerous individual who will kill again if he feels the need to.

Since Jose Palacios Garza already had a criminal record in the United States, his family could convey the legal documents concerning him to the Mexican authorities. In these documents, an interesting point is present: “Mental illness… N”. Therefore, the American authorities whom had already apprehended and evaluated him came to the conclusion that he does not suffer from mental illness. These documents were translated into Spanish to be put into the murder case of Mrs. Wathelet. However, in this bulky court document which we obtained copy; we can clearly observe this particular item was conveniently omitted in the translation.

Jose Palacios Garza is a criminal with severe behavioral disorders. He doesn’t feel remorse and killing for him is not something abnormal. Although he does understand that it is a socially reprehensible action, he doesn’t have any trouble to resort to this kind of solution. The prison director described as extremely manipulative and intelligent.

Brain Imagery
The use of cerebral imagery, like CAT Scans (Computerized Axial Tomography) in a criminal cause like an homicide is still only a dream in the American, Canadian and European legal systems. However, in Mexico, the advance of neuropsychiatric science is so great that it is possible. At least, in the case of Canadian, sexual tourist, killed by a mentally ill orphan (sic). These techniques are still in experimental phase for the diagnosis of certain mental diseases. It is an emerging science which remains unable to give reliable and sufficient results, even more for a criminal cause.

After consulting with specialist in the field of cerebral imagery at the Concordia University in Montreal, we were told the inflammation of the temporal lobes is presently correlated, very slightly, with epilepsy. No consensus or valid scientific studies reports any another significant correlation between an inflammation of the temporal lobes and any other condition. Except on Isla Mujeres where this could have contributed to clear or at least, significantly reduce the sentence, of dangerous fugitive.

Only one case could be found of an attempt to use such technologies in sentencing phase of a homicide case. In this case, it was to avoid a capital punishment for a known psychopath. Instead of repeating the argumentative here, it is possible to learn the details and the medico-legal stand point on the medical center of the University of Chicago website.

Although in the case of Jose Palacios Garza this exam came back negative, such a blatant disregard should not be silenced.

Since the end of October, it’s the opinion of diplomat authorities, from countries other than Canada and Mexico, that only Canadian diplomatic pressures could stop this masquerade. The Canadian authorities initially denied this, and then asked for the source of this information and finally ended up indicating that the Canadian foreign policy does not allow such interventions. This became a constant through the case where by its inaction; the Canadian government implicitly supports the questionable actions of the Mexican authorities.

Legal Process »

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