Prosecution seeks to counter ‘Prozac defense’

In this courtroom sketch by News Tribune artist Jim Dyke, Dr. Anthony Rothschild sits on the witness stand. In the background is Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce.

In this courtroom sketch by News Tribune artist Jim Dyke, Dr. Anthony Rothschild sits on the witness stand. In the background is Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce. Photo by Jim Dyke.

“Mental illness can cause disastrous effects,” Public Defender Donald Catlett told Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce on Tuesday evening during his closing argument in the Alyssa Bustamante sentencing hearing.

He added: “It is almost impossible to say any one thing causes a tragedy” like Bustamante’s killing Elizabeth Olten, 9, on Oct. 21, 2009.

But Bustamante’s use of Prozac, an anti-depressant drug available in the United States since 1988, was one of the main problems with the girl’s mental health treatment, Catlett and fellow Public Defender Charlie Moreland said repeatedly as they presented their evidence through the sentencing hearing’s two days.

“I don’t know the truth about Prozac,” Catlett told Joyce on Tuesday evening. “I do know it wasn’t helping Alyssa.”

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