Sunday, July 01, 2007

Are seizures responsible for murder?

Oscar Cordoba, the lottery millionaire who allegedly killed his mother-in-law, appeared professorial in his rectangular glasses and light-blue shirt Tuesday as he listened to his attorney tell the jury he suffers from seizures and did not mean to kill the woman four years ago.

The assistant prosecutor said during opening statements that Cordoba, who is in his 50s, committed murder in a jealous rage, stabbing his wife, Sylvia, and then inflicting 12 stab wounds in her mother Julia Bradway's midsection and mutilating her face while Cordoba's child and his wife, who died this March, tried to fight him off.

Cordoba was lucky in one sense, defense attorney John Morris told the attentive jury in Superior Court Judge James Isman's courtroom. Cordoba won nearly $9 million in 1989 in the state lottery and settled into his Egg Harbor Township home with his wife and their three children.

But Morris said the seizures got Cordoba discharged from the army of his native land, Argentina, and eventually destroyed his family after a change in his level of medication made Cordoba see things, hear things and taste sand in his food at the couple's favorite restaurant Sept. 14, 2003. The next morning, at about 6 a.m., he allegedly attacked his wife and killed Julia Bradway, 75, who was visiting from Delaware.

At some point in the argument, Cordoba allegedly pulled out an 8-inch kitchen knife and stabbed his wife in her arms and neck. He then allegedly turned his rage on the mother-in-law, who had come to her daughter's defense.

Cordoba's wife who was in her 50s took off with her children.

Morris told the jury that his client, who sat with his hands often over his mouth Tuesday, should be found not guilty by reason of insanity, which would translate into him being committed, not acquitted of the crime. The lawyer said during the trial doctors will explain Cordoba does suffer from seizures and he could and has done things he cannot remember.

From 1988 on, the Cordobas went to specialists to try to deal with Oscar Cordoba's seizure disorders, Morris said.

Assistant Prosecutor Diane Ruberton said the jurors cannot forget that the legal definition of insanity is not a medical one. It will be up to the jury to decide the definition of insanity. Anger, jealousy — possibly hatred — led to the violent, vicious attacks on Cordoba's family, Ruberton said.

The trial resumes today.


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