Psychiatry Expert Witness On Memory Lapse Defense In Murder Trial

Psychiatry expert witness Dr. James Missett took the stand Wednesday in the final day of testimony in Marshall Doud’s murder trial. Doud, 43, is accused of smothering his wife, Morgana, on Sept. 4, 2007, but has testified that he has no recollection of killing her. The couple’s three teenage children found their mother’s dead body on her bed a few hours after Doud left their Mentel Avenue home and drove into the Santa Cruz Mountains. He has testified that he lost about two hours of memory during the early morning hours, which was when Morgana, 42, died.

Dr. Missett, the only expert to testify during the seven-day trial, was called as a witness for the District Attorney’s Office to share his opinion on consciousness and memory lapses. Defense attorney Art Dudley asked Missett if there were levels of consciousness, and the doctor said consciousness is “graded” and that it’s possible to be awake and still unconscious. The doctor said outside factors, including stroke, a blow to the head or being under the influence of drugs or alcohol – could impair someone’s ability to recollect their actions. Doud was using a therapeutic dose of anti-depressants at the time of his wife’s death, but Missett said that amount of the drug should not affect memory retention.

Excerpted from