Psychologist: Escobar is schizophrenic

May 22, 2002|By MARIO RENTERÍA

Staff Writer

A private practice clinical psychologist thinks 20-year-old Benjamin Jason Escobar, who admitted to trying to kill his 6-month-old cousin in Imperial last year, is a paranoid schizophrenic.

Lewis Joseph Nidorf of San Diego, who testified during the trial of Escobar on Tuesday, said after interviewing Escobar, reviewing police reports and talking to Escobar's mother, Norma Escobar Garcia, he would classify Escobar as a paranoid schizophrenic.

"I believe that he was compromised by his thought process and wasn't able to function like a normal human being," Nidorf testified.


He said Escobar has "manifested" several things in his life. One manifestation, he said, was being molested by his natural father.

The problem, he said, is Escobar has never met his natural father. Another manifestation was that Escobar was at one point a gang member but there is no real proof of that besides some graffiti.

Nidorf also said Escobar thinks that if anybody were to hurt him the world would burn.

County Deputy District Attorney Deborah Owen showed jurors Tuesday a 29-minute tape of an interview Escobar gave to Imperial police after he was arrested for stabbing the infant.

In the interview he tells Imperial police how he tried to kill the baby. He says he inserted the knife into the baby's neck and held it there for several seconds. He moved the knife around to make sure the infant was dead.

Owen also called several Imperial police officers, including Joe Garibaldi and Ray Valenzuela, to testify. She also called Angie Robles, who testified Escobar expressed concern to her about not being circumcised. Robles is the aunt of the infant.

Escobar, 20, of Huntington Park is in the sanity phase of his trial. He pleaded guilty to premeditated attempted murder of the infant but has pleaded he was insane. Escobar tried to kill the infant while the baby slept May 14, 2001 in his Imperial home.

According to reports, Escobar had planned to kill his 8-year-old cousin, who was in the Imperial house where Escobar was staying, but instead decided to go after the infant because he determined it would be easier.

Court was recessed until Tuesday because one of the witnesses Owen wants to call will not be available until then.

She is planning on calling Alan Abrams, a psychiatrist at Centinela State Prison, and Kay DiFrancesca a private practice psychologist out of San Diego.

DiFrancesca was appointed to evaluate Escobar by the court while Abrams was brought into the case by Owen.

>> Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 337-3441.

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