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Kitsap County likely to pay dearly to dispute accused murderer's insanity defense

Forsenic psychologist Park Dietz’s fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars  - Courtesy photo
Forsenic psychologist Park Dietz’s fees can run into tens of thousands of dollars
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office is determined disprove Daniel J. Mustard’s insanity plea, but the cost of doing so could leave the taxpayers with a severe case of sticker shock.

Mustard, the Olalla 18-year-old who is accused of stabbing his elderly neighbor to death a year ago, entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity last April.

According to Kitsap County Deputy Prosecutor Kevin Hull, the county has retained famed forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz to dispute Mustard’s mental claims.

Dietz is best known for his forensic consulting on behalf of state and federal prosecutors, as well as his work on the television series Law & Order.

His most noteworthy cases included those of Jeffrey Dahmer, John Hinckley, Andrea Yates, Deanna Laney, Susan Smith, Cary Stayner, Polly Klaas, the Menendez Brothers (retrial), John DuPont, the Unabomber, New York’s Zodiac Killer, and the “Prom Mom” case.

With Dietz’s notoriety also comes an expensive price tag for his services.

In the 1982 trial of John W. Hinckley, Jr., who was accused of attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Dietz’s expert services came at the cost of $120,000.

In 2004, Dietz was the expert witness in the Andrew Urdiales trial which cost the state of Illinois more than $144,000.

In 2006, Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office retained Dietz at a rate of $600 an hour for the trial against Wayne Hower, an auto mechanic who shot and killed convenience store owner Al Kono in Port Orchard.

Last November in Dawes County, Neb., a murder trial cost the county $71,000 with the biggest share going to Park Dietz and Associates for his expert testimony in the case.

Claim forms submitted by the doctor totaled $62,727 for his services.

The services he provided the county included an examination of the defendant, record reviews, reports, PowerPoint presentations, telephone and email exchanges, travel and several meetings with prosecutors.

Dietz also observed testimony during the trial by the defense’s expert witness.

In fall of 2009 in San Diego, over the span of a year, Dietz was again summoned to give his expert testimony during a double murder trial.

The cost to the county for his services totaled more than $64,000.

In the Andrea Yates case, Dietz billed $100,000 although his reputation was marred after it was revealed that he gave misleading testimony in the trial.

The First Texas Court of Appeals reversed Yates’s conviction based on Dietz’s role, the excerpt states, “We conclude that there is a reasonable likelihood that Dr. Dietz’s false testimony could have affected the judgment of the jury.” Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity in her court-ordered retrial.

In a 1999 Champion Magazine article called “Capital Cases,” Dietz was described as having “no clinical practice, but only a lucrative forensic practice billed in 1994 at $3000 a day or $250 per hour.”

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