STAMFORD, Conn. – In the opinion of Aaron Ramsey ’s psychiatrist, the 22-year-old Wilton man was in the throes of a psychotic episode when he was charged with beating his father to death at their Wilton home in May.
During his testimony Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Justin Schechter told a three-judge panel that after meeting with Ramsey he was confident in a diagnosis of a schizoaffective disorder stemming from severe delusions of grandeur and paranoia and suffering audible hallucinations.
When asked by defense attorney Howard Ehring to explain Ramsey’s mental illness, Schechter said, “It’s hard to put this in a broader context,” explaining that the psychosis had been building for years.
Ramsey had most likely been at a Global Assessment of Functioning level of 10, which is “extraordinarily low” and indicated acute psychosis, Schechter said. Currently, Ramsey was at about 50, he said. The numerical scale measures the psychological, social and occupational functioning of a patient: the higher on the scale, the fewer symptoms of psychosis.
The court heard that Ramsey has been suffering from some form of mental illness since about age 19 and had been admitted to the High Watch Recovery Center for substance abuse in 2009 and Silver Hill Hospital for day patient treatment in early 2010.
But Ramsey was not on any drugs in the 24 hours before the attack tests at Norwalk Hospital found, Schechter said. But he had been in an “acute psychotic state” in the hours leading up to the attack and in the weeks after his arrest, Schechter said.
Ramsey was frightened and felt as if he were being threatened by his family, Schechter said. “He felt his father was part of the forces of evil,” he said. During the attack, Ramsey had been in a frenzy, Schechter said. He characterized it as violent and said Ramsey had been unable to understand right from wrong.
According to a 46-minute audio recording played at the last court appearance , Ramsey told police he felt his father had been hypnotizing him with the piano and that after an argument he “beat him to death.” Ramsey also said that by killing his father he believed that the “slaves” would be freed and that it would bring his friends and family back together.
The violence was confirmed by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver, who told the court that 50 stab wounds were counted during the autopsy of Edward Ramsey, 73. The cause of death was a combination of stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head, Carver said, ruling the death a homicide.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Richard Colangelo asked Schechter how long it might take for someone to be considered well. It is difficult to say because of the many other psychiatric factors, including the aftermath of his father’s death, Schechter said.
It is likely that Ramsey will be found not guilty by reason of mental illness, said Colangelo. Ramsey will return to Stamford Superior Court on Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. for sentencing in the charge of first-degree murder.
“Ultimately, it’s determining how long he’ll be confined at Whiting,” Colangelo said. The sentence for first-degree murder is 25 to 60 years. Ramsey is being held at the Whiting Forensic Institute in Middletown, part of the Connecticut Valley Hospital system for the mentally ill.