The Thessalonian Catrell Love case is finally going to jury trial, but the pretrial motions took up a lot of the court’s time last week, with Mr. Love sitting in the dock in shackles and chains, a spitting mask covering the nether half of his face.
Attentive readers will remember when young Love first came to the area from Bakersfield three years ago to land a phish he’d snagged on the internet, a young girl in Point Arena who was fully prepared to flee the fog belt with charming Thess for a new life as a prostitute in Bakersfield. Why, Thess promised, they could even live with his mom! But the girl’s mother, Nancy Torres, found out about the couple’s departure and had Love arrested.
We covered that trial, along with Love’s sprinting escape from the Courthouse Love into the urbane precincts of Ukiah’s Westside one afternoon as corrections officers were taking him back to the jail after a day in court. Since then, Love, by writing threatening letters and spitting at and on people, including one of his attorneys — a form of assault — has racked-up a potential 34 years-to-life prison sentence.
And to think it all started out as a romance, a young swain with bus tickets for himself and his internet-ordered bride-to-be!
Love was originally offered a plea bargain deal of three years out of this mess, which, had he accepted it, he would have been out by now, and the fogbelt lass old enough to legally ruin her life. But that’s all out of the question, now. Which brings up the question of Mr. Love’s intelligence, and an expert on that subject, a psychology PhD, was brought in by the defense to assess the young romantic’s IQ.
Enter Dr. Albert Kastl of Santa Rosa.
But first, let’s keep the good doctor waiting out in the hall, like the court did last week, while we update the reader on some other pertinent factors, mainly the spitting. To put it mildly, Love has a flamboyant contempt for the conventional standards of decorum, and the list of people he has spat upon include his lawyers, Jan Cole-Wilson (who represented him in his first trial) and his current lawyer, Patrick Pekin — he spat on them both — but neither of them want to make a fuss over it, because they both agree, the guy’s hardly any more mature than a 10 to 14-year-old boy — and anyone who has ever known or been a boy of 10 to 14 knows how fond they are of spitting. But Love has also spit on several others, Probation Officer Sandra Plaza for instance, and at least one of the corrections officers, a court clerk, and some other county personnel, who are not quite so forgiving or understanding.
Will Love hock one up for his jurors?
“They are not my peers!” he told the judge last week. Having already had one trial in Ukiah, he knows what to expect and, yes, he’s right, the kind of locals in an average Mendo jury pool are hardly aspiring young rap stars. Fair enough. But on the other hand, our regional political climate can hardly be described as intolerant, let alone racist. In fact, we’d be hard-pressed to produce more than one or two personalities in the whole county that could be classified as conservatives. So it’s unlikely any kind of bigotry could taint Love’s jury. That being said, there remains the spitting problem and his record as an escape artist.
“If I have to wear this mask, those people are gonna think I’m some kind of crazy person!”
“If you can behave yourself, and I know you can,” Judge Ann Moorman said, “you won’t have to wear it.”
It was agreed that Love wouldn’t have to wear the mask, and he would be allowed to come to court in civilian clothes, rather than in the chartreuse neon jumpsuit of the more difficult prisoners, and the shackles and chains, all of which could prejudice the jurors against him.
An elaborate plan was devised to keep the jurors from seeing the defendant in the chains and shackles while he’s being moved back and forth from the jail. Once these conditions were agreed to, the subject of Dr. Kastl was addressed.
Love interrupted. He’d seen his lawyer, Patrick Pekin, speaking with your trusty courthouse correspondent, Bruce McEwen, and wanted to fire Pekin for “airing my business with the whole jail,” he said. Looking in my direction (there was nobody else in the gallery ) “with that guy over there in the shirt and tie, some kind of Miami Blue or whatever, so everybody at the jail knows my business — and I want a new lawyer because of it.”
District Attorney David Eyster — who has taken over the case since Love’s former prosecutor, Shannon Cox, has moved on to work for County Counsel Katherine Elliot. Eyster said Love’s pointed reference to me was just another ploy on Love’s part to stall the proceedings, and put off the inevitable. Judge Moorman pretty much ignored Love and he quieted down.
Moorman: “What about Dr. Kastl?”
Pekin: “He’s out in the hall. Shall I get him?”
Moorman: “First tell me what he’s going to be doing.”
Pekin: “Dr. Kastl has diagnosed my client with developmental disability, impulsive response disorder, attention deficit disorder, a very low IQ, he’s anti-social, hyperactive, and… well, despite his impulsivity and cognitive impairments Dr. Kastl declared him competent in the 1368 evaluations.”
Moorman: “No-no, Dr. Ferront was the one who declared him competent. Don’t you remember?”
Eyster: “But doesn’t the Developmentally Disabled-diagnosis have to come from the Regional Center?”
The Redwood Coast Regional Center on Airport Park Blvd. in Ukiah oversees the developmentally disabled.
Pekin explained that Dr. Kastl had been with the Regional Center, but then went on to private consulting, and the lucrative expert witness line of employment.
Eyster: “He better not get on the stand and try to say he’s court-appointed.”
Pekin: “He won’t. I’ll make sure he understands he’s not to do anything like that.”
Moorman: “Alright, let’s get him in here.”
Dr. Albert Kastl took the stand with his luggage, a large briefcase and a satchel full of files, periodicals, and manuals. He appeared to be in his eighties, and proved to be either hard of hearing or a poor listener.
Eyster: “When you examined Mr. Love did you suspect he was developmentally disabled?”
Eyster: “Did you note that in your report?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes.”
Eyster: “Can you show me where?”
Kastl: “Well, over the course of time involved there were several reports generated, of course and…”
Eyster: “Yes, I know, and of the universe of these reports, for this particular patient, where does it appear?”
Eyster held up a ream of reports, which were so bulky they flopped over to one side.
Kastl: “Well, it first appears in the December 7th report…”
The doctor had been peering through his thick glasses at the ream of pages before him on the stand.
Eyster: “On what page?”
Kastl: “…on page eight, in the third paragraph.”
Eyster: “Can you read the section?”
Kastl read the paragraph — however, people read much faster than they talk, and it was not possible to get it down.
Eyster: “I didn’t hear the words developmentally disabled anywhere.”
Kastl: “Well, no, and I didn’t use it but some intellectual delay is implied when a student gets such a placement…”
Eyster: “Were you more obvious about it in any place in these reports?”
Kastl: “Well, there was this accident, where he was riding a bicycle…”
Kastl: “…riding a bicycle which collided with a motor vehicle…”
Eyster: “Doctor, were you with the Regional Center?”
Kastl: “The Regional Center? For a time, yes I was there for a time, and when that ended I went on to other providers.”
Eyster: “Then you’ve probably dealt with the 1369 section?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes, several times.”
Eyster read the section from the law book and asked, “Were you aware of that?”
Kastl: “At the time of this first report I thought there was a possibility, but it didn’t appear to be the case so I did not give him the, uh, the test at that time… you see…”
Eyster: “At any point, as you were working as a 1368 expert, did you at any time suspect he was developmentally disabled?”
Kastl: “Well it’s a different terminology, but…”
Eyster: “Did you ever convey any information in this regard to any attorney in his case?”
Kastl: “Uh, no…no.”
Eyster: “Thank you, I have no further questions.”
In Dr. Kastl’s absence DA Eyster said that the trial may have to be cancelled because of the way things were going, but later Dr. Kastl was back on the stand.
Eyster: “In the pack of material you submitted to the court, is this the whole universe of your reports?”
Eyster was again holding aloft the ream of reports.
Kastl: “Well, not the entire universe, no… it was just impractical to provide the entire universe, you see… let me see, here… to provide 208 or more documents, you see…”
Eyster: “If you had more time, you could then provide the entire universe?”
Eyster: “Even the Halstead Category Test notes.”
Eyster: “Did you converse with the family?”
Kastl: “Mm… yes.”
Eyster: “Did you provide those notes?”
Kastl: “Well, it would be with the second report, in January of 2017.”
Eyster: “I guess the bigger question is, Doctor Kastl, have all your notes been provided?”
Kastl: “Well, my secretary would have seen to it and…”
Eyster: “So, you believe everything was provided but the Halstead Category Test notes?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes, unless there’s an inadvertent omission… yes.”
Eyster: “Did you provide the scoring benchmark?”
Kastl: “Uh, no… no, that would be with the manual itself.”
Eyster: “But isn’t there a full range of meanings that can be drawn?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes, I suppose, to some extent, yes.”
Eyster: “One section applies to the raw data, though, doesn’t it?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes.”
Eyster: “So, you’d just need that one section?”
Kastl: “Well… yes.”
Eyster: “Would it be possible to get that section?”
Eyster: “Do you have it?”
Kastl: “I do.”
Eyster: “So you can interpret the raw data into [psychometric] scale scores?”
Eyster: “Is that a yes?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes.”
Eyster: “Where would that be?”
Kastl: “In books, mostly.”
Eyster: “What books?”
Kastl: “Books about psychology history.”
Eyster: “So each test would involve an additional book?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes… you see there are books devoted to each of these topics and what the scale scores mean…”
Eyster: “So you used a different book for each test in this case?”
Kastl: “Well, yes, but not for each scale score.”
Eyster: “Did you list each of the books you used?”
Kastl: “Uh, no.”
Eyster: “So how do we know which references you relied on in reaching your conclusions?”
Kastl: “Well, I used the information I’ve gotten from those books over time, having been licensed in 1968 and been reading all the relevant books and scholarly articles since then.”
Eyster: “But wouldn’t I need to know what books you used if, for instance, I wanted to compare apples to oranges?”
Kastl: “Well, there are varieties of opinion, but in general they all are similar in the final analysis.”
Eyster: “So you didn’t rely on any specific books in this case?”
Kastl: “Well, no, only over the years, in a general reading, the articles, seminars…”
Eyster: “Thank you, that’s all I have.”
Pekin: “You first interviewed Mr. Love in competency?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes, that’s correct.”
Pekin: “Now, I realize it is a lengthy list, 23 items, from December of 2015 to the present, but is it fair to say you examined a series of reports by correctional officers, police officers, family members”—
Mr. Love chimed in: “Excuse me, I need to go to the bath room.”
It had been a long day and everyone else was free to come and go, but Love was shackled and chained with a guard posted over him. The judge ordered a recess. By the time I got back, the case had resumed, and they were finally getting into the meat of the issue — the threat made to the would-be prostitute’s mother, Nancy Torres, in letters seized by the jail.
Eyster: “At first his IQ was just over 50, then later it was in the 80s — how do you explain that?”
Pekin: “It was done over a stretch of time, and isn’t it fair to say, Dr. Kastl, that Mr. Love is not exactly cooperative?”
Kastl: “Mm, yes. For instance, when asked for a response [in the Rorschach Test] he would say, those are just inkblots.”
Eyster: “But, wasn’t he correct?”
Eyster: “Aren’t they just inkblots?”
Kastl: “Well, yes, but only oh-point seven percent of cases would someone respond in such a way, because most people cooperate.”
Dr. Kastl suddenly exploded into a burst of apparently ungovernable giggles — like a man who’d just realized the asp he nearly trod on was only a crooked stick laying in the trail. After a moment he regained himself.
Eyster: “But you agree he understood what he was writing was threatening?”
Kastl: “Well, he may have understood that what he was writing was threats, but he couldn’t cognize how making the threats would rebound on him.”
Pekin: “If Mr. Love knew his letters were being intercepted, wouldn’t that alter your opinion?”
Kastl: “Well, it would influence him to some degree, but not enough to overcome his impulsivity, whereas normally you wouldn’t work against your own self-interest.”
Again, Dr. Kastl was banished to the hallway. In his absence the judge and lawyers hashed out what Kastl would and would not be allowed to say on the stand.
Eyster: “He can’t imply something by use of semantics, and suggest that this was not autonomous, volitional thinking — and attempt to deal with his [Love’s] mental state and intent.”
Pekin: “That statement [that at the time he wrote the letter he did not understand the implications to himself] should be kept out.”
Moorman: “I’m not gonna allow it, not the sentence or a word of it. But it’s my intent to let Dr. Kastl testify. So, again, Mr. Eyster, you need to speak up.”
Eyster: “I want a Fifth Amendment waiver for the 1368 material to be admitted, because in essence the defendant is testifying through these documents.”
Pekin: “There won’t be any substantive questioning on the materials, for instance, ‘what do you think of this ink blot?’ or anything like that.”
Eyster: “I just want to warn the court and counsel, though, I’m not going to be as kind and patient with the doctor during the trial, as I’ve been during this 402 hearing.”
Moorman: “I think we all are very well aware of that, aren’t we Mr. Pekin?”
Pekin smiled handsomely at the prospect of the DA’s florid exasperation, and I fully expected to see the trial proceed on Monday, but the courts move in mysterious ways and nothing was on the docket regarding Mr. Love for this week or the next. Go figure.