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Psych defense planned.

Byline: Gary V. Murray

WORCESTER - One of two men accused of committing a double murder two years ago in Dudley is raising a psychiatric defense.

John H. LaChance, the lawyer appointed to represent 28-year-old Christian Muller, filed a notice of his intent to raise such a defense on Mr. Muller's behalf yesterday in Worcester Superior Court.

Mr. Muller, of 8 Crystal St., Webster, and Marc Letang, 21, of 501 Plantation St., are each charged with two counts of murder and other crimes stemming from a July 9, 2007, home invasion in an apartment at 25 West Main St., Dudley, that left two people dead from gunshot wounds to the head.

The victims were 31-year-old Aaron Bash and 26-year-old Denise Johnston, who both lived in the third-floor apartment where the shootings occurred. Joanne Mercier, Mr. Muller's former girlfriend, was also shot in the head; she survived.

Ms. Mercier told investigators she, Mr. Bash and Ms. Johnston were shot by Mr. Muller after he and another man broke into the apartment shortly before 1 a.m. Ms. Mercier said she had dated Mr. Muller, but had broken off the relationship three days earlier.

She accused Mr. Muller of shooting at her the day she ended their relationship and of telling her friend he intended to kill her, according to investigators.

In an earlier request for funds to hire a neuropsychologist to evaluate his client, Mr. LaChance said Mr. Muller had a long history of drug and alcohol abuse and had been involuntarily hospitalized several times for treatment.

In his written request for up to $5,000 in public funds for the evaluation, which was approved by the court, Mr. LaChance said there was reason to believe Mr. Muller "may be suffering from a form of organic brain syndrome or frontal lobe damage affecting his ability to control his conduct."

The notice of intent to raise a psychiatric defense filed by Mr. LaChance yesterday indicated he planned to offer expert testimony at trial concerning Mr. Muller's mental state at the time of the killings. His expert witness was identified as neuropsychologist Paul Spiers of the Harvard Medical School.

According to the filing, Mr. LaChance will argue that Mr. Muller lacked criminal responsibility for his alleged actions by reason of mental disease or defect and/or did not have the capacity to form the specific intent needed for a conviction for first-degree murder.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher P. Hodgens told Judge Peter W. Agnes Jr. he planned to file a motion seeking to have Mr. Muller examined by a mental health expert of the prosecution's choosing.

Judge Agnes set a Dec. 7 trial date for Mr. Muller and Mr. Letang and scheduled a Nov. 10 final pretrial hearing.

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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 20, 2009
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