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Expert believes Hower knew he did wrong

A well-known forensic psychiatrist who recently interviewed accused murderer Wayne Brent Hower believes the defendant was suffering from a mental disease when he shot South Kitsap shopkeeper Alan Kono last year. But he also believes Hower knew what he was doing was wrong when he pulled the trigger.

Park Dietz, who has testified at the trials of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer and Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, was hired by Kitsap County Prosecutors Mike Savage and Kelly Montgomery to evaluate Hower, 45, who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the murder of Kono last year.

“It is my opinion with reasonable medical certainty that the defendant was able to tell right from wrong with reference to the killing of Kono,” Dietz wrote in his report, provided to prosecutors Jan. 19.

However, Dietz explained that Hower’s ability to tell right from wrong was only one of two crucial questions to answer to determine whether he met the state’s legal definition of insanity, known as the M’Naghten test.

The other, whether Hower knew he was pointing a weapon at a person, he said he was unable to answer with the same certainty.

“The evidence (suggesting) that Hower knew he was shooting a weapon at a person substantially outweighs the evidence (suggesting) he did not; however, his delusions were such that he may have believed that he shot a part of the person that could have been replicated,” Dietz wrote, referring to Hower’s explanation in interviews with other doctors that everyone was made of several parts, and that he was only killing the “bad” part of Kono.

Dietz wrote that his ability to “definitively answer the (questions of sanity) were hampered by” the defendant’s refusal to answer most of his questions, and the fact that no recordings of previous forensic interviews with Hower were available.

According to his report, Dietz interviewed Hower on Dec. 29 and 30 in Kitsap County Jail, but the defendant, “usually through his attorney, declined to answer most of the relevant questions.”

The areas he said Hower refused to discuss included anything related to the homicide of Al Kono, anything related to the defendant’s thoughts about Kono, anything related to what he may have said to others about Kono, and anything related to the defendant’s thoughts or actions on the day of Kono’s shooting.

Hower did discuss such subjects previously during forensic interviews with Drs. R.M. Hart and Pogos Voskanian, and those reports were made available to Dietz.

In those interviews, Hower describes voices telling him that “everything, (including Kono), was not a single entity, but rather an array of parts, each having an affect on some aspect of his reality.” He said that he did not set out to kill Kono the person, but that part of his “matrix” that was the source of his symptoms.

Dietz explained that the written reports he was provided that explained Hower’s mental state were not ideal for determining sanity because they “leave unanswered questions about the defendant’s exact language ... and the nature of any suggestive or leading questions.”

To complete his evaluation, Dietz relied heavily on Kitsap County Sheriff’s Offices reports, taped interviews with witnesses and family members, and numerous Kitsap Mental Health reports regarding the defendant’s treatment plan and progress.

According to one witness, Matthew Hargis, who said he was having coffee with Kono in front of P.J’s Market shortly before he was shot at approximately 1:20 p.m. June 23, 2005, Hower pulled a shotgun out of his car, shot Kono in the head, then walked over to Kono’s body.

Before returning to his car and “calmly” driving away, Hower turned to the witness and said, “Don’t worry, my problem is not with you, it was with Kono.”

Shortly afterward, when deputies arrested Hower at his home, they reported that he exited his vehicle and immediately displayed his hands, followed their orders and repeatedly stated, “I’m cooperating.”

Later, when deputies asked him what happened, Hower reportedly said, “Not right now, I think I will talk to my attorney first.”

Dietz said that Hower’s statement to Hargis indicated that he was “assuring him that he was not going to shoot him, too, which shows that he knew it was wrong to shoot people,” and that what he said to the deputies revealed he knew they were there because he shot Kono, and he was trying to prevent being shot himself.

“These behaviors clearly show that he was not beyond the influences of criminal law,” Dietz wrote, explaining that he disagreed with the previous determinations by Hart and Voskanian that Hower did not adequately know right from wrong.

Dietz also concluded that Hower voluntarily stopped taking his prescribed medication, Risperdal, between May 6 and June 23 of 2005, even though he knew it would heighten the chance of violent behavior.

“He knew the (non-compliance with medical treatment) would induce the psychotic decomposition that is the basis for the finding of mental disease,” he wrote.

Hower’s trial on first-degree murder is scheduled to begin April 12.

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