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Defense psychiatrist says Publix shooter was like a 'robot'

ST. PETERSBURG — After more than an hour of questions, defense attorney George Tragos asked the psychiatrist the one that mattered most.

"Did Arunya Rouch know when she shot Greg Janowski and shot at the police officers and pointed her gun at other individuals at Publix," he said, "did she know right from wrong?"

"I thought she was so cognitively impaired, she did not know right from wrong," said Dr. Karl Jones, a psychiatrist hired by the defense to analyze Rouch. "She was basically out to commit suicide by cop."

On the morning of March 30, 2010, Rouch was fired from Publix for threatening to kill Janowski, a meat cutter. Five hours later, Rouch, who had worked in the seafood department, returned to the Tarpon Springs store and shot Janowski four times in the parking lot. He died at the scene.

Rouch then slipped the gun into a green shopping bag and entered the supermarket, searching for other targets, prosecutors say. After authorities arrived, she fired at officers before a Tarpon Springs police sergeant shot her four times and disarmed her.

Rouch's mental health, Jones told jurors, slowly deteriorated over two years as Janowski teased and bullied her at work. The firing finally caused her to snap.

Rouch reacted differently than most people to losing her job, Jones explained, because she is from Thailand, where saving face is more culturally significant. He compared the firing to someone committing a violent act against her.

Jones diagnosed her as having several mental illnesses, including dissociative disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. At the time of shooting, he said, she was like a "robot."

In cross-examination, prosecutor Fred Schaub attacked Jones' diagnoses, his limited experience in analyzing accused murderers and the numerous mistakes the doctor committed in his report.

Schaub pointed out Jones made several typos, misspelled a police officer's name and referred to a Publix worker as a law enforcement officer.

Tragos later called to the stand three women who had worked with Rouch at Publix. Each of them corroborated the attorney's assertion that Janowski and others had tormented Rouch for months before the killing.

The women testified that he used racial slurs against Rouch, told her to "get back in her hole" and, on one occasion, said she should go back to Thailand "where she belonged."

Rouch's husband, Thomas, is scheduled to testify in her defense this morning. Prosecutors also are expected to call three doctors who will say Rouch was sane at the time of the shootings.

Defense psychiatrist says Publix shooter was like a 'robot' 06/19/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 19, 2012 10:21pm]
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