Psychological Testimony – Dr. Rybroek’s and Dr. Caldwell’s Testimony

Dr. Rybroek’s and Dr. Caldwell’s Testimony

Introduction

Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier were two girls indicted for the stabbing of their schoolmate (Payton Leutner) nineteen times, for the imaginary figure Slender Man in June 2014. The lawyer for the wrongdoers had filed an appeal against a ruling by a previous judge who had ruled that they should be indicted as grown-ups instead of juveniles. If found guilty, Weier and Geyser could be jailed for up to 65 years. Geyser was determined to be suffering from early schizophrenia. The accused were both 12 years old schoolmates at the time they committed the crime (Cleary, 184). They claimed they committed the “murder” to protect their families from Slender Man, who wanted to kill their families. Dr. Gregory Van Rybroek and Dr. Michael Caldwell are two top psychologists who were invited by the court to give expert witness in the trial. This paper will critically review Dr. Rybroek and Dr. Caldwell’s testimony in the Anissa Weier Slender Man trial.    

It may require psychological treatment, medication or both since recent studies have shown that separation alone is not enough to get prevent the secondary person from becoming delusional. In some cases, a secondary person can drop their delusionary beliefs almost immediately after they are separated from the primary delusional person. But in most cases, these delusions ay stay with the secondary people for a long time. Peck states that they claimed they committed the “murder” to protect their families from Slender Man, who wanted to kill their families (14).  

Body language

Dr. Rybroek changed his sitting position, making him appear big and in control.  He did not look stressed. He kept casually gesturing with his hands, showing his confidence and expertise. His head came up, shoulders up and back. Dr. Caldwell’s sitting position and body movements directed his energy upwards. His experience in law and previous court appearances as an expert witness made him confident.

Content

Both Dr. Rybroek and Dr. Caldwell are top psychologists in their state. They are also Doctorate Degree holders, although Dr. Rybroek is more qualified since he is a professor. All their answers to the prosecution’s questions are relevant to the questions and full of content. They are both knowledgeable and explain complex issues to the jury using very simple language. Their experience in law contributes to the depth of the content they give the court.

Responses to questioning

Dr. Rybroek answers all he is asked by the opposing attorney questions confidently and in detail, Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:14:00-00:15-00). He describes his internship in great detail, he further says that he went to law school. He does forensic evaluations. He is also a specialist in brain development works with children and teenagers Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:17:50-00:19:20). When asked in which field he is licensed, he says that he is licensed both as a psychologist and as an attorney, but he doesn’t practice attorney Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:19:38-00:19:44).

Language

Both Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Rybroek used simple language that the jury was able to follow easily. They simplified sophisticated theories to educate the court in mental health knowledge. When the opposing attorney asked lengthy questions with a slightly altered meaning of what they had said, they were careful enough not to acknowledge such misinformation. They listened very carefully and corrected what was wrong.

Expert in mental health testimony

Morgan and Weier were delusional, confused and convinced that something real was happening between them and slender man Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:36:00-00:38:00). She moved from fantasy to delusion. It was gradually getting into their heads, and they found themselves committing the crime. She was lost in a whirlpool of insanity and lost herself. She was not able to conform to the law. She could not stop herself because, in her mind, she was convinced that slender man would kill all her loved ones if she did not become a proxy Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:39:12-00:40:45). 

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Rybroek and Weier met at the County Detention Center 2 years after the offense was committed Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:28:30-00:29:00). Try to understand a person’s state of mind at the time of committing the crime Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:29:30- 00:30:00) He interviewed her for her memory. Cross-examined what she told other professionals previously. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual is a guide for psychiatrists and researchers to helps them understand mental health concerns or reach a diagnosis Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:33:00-00:30:34:30). She could not conform her conduct to the law due to the effect of the Slender Man from the internet Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:42:00-00:43:55). 

Qualifications and Ethics

Dr. Gregory Van Rybroek

The opposing attorney asks the expert witness if he is the one who prepared his resume Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:12:28) and the expert witness responds in the affirmative. The opposing attorney wanted to find out if the resume is accurate and updated regarding, the training and experience of the expert witness. He is a professor at Wisconsin University. The opposing attorney asked the witness to describe his academic qualifications. In Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:12:45), the witness describes his academic background. Dr. Gregory Van Rybroek says he has a B.A. Psychology, Masters in Counselling and a Ph.D. in Psychology and a law degree. Practices in Psychology in his Law Degree Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:12:56). The opposing attorney then proceeds to ask him what area he practices in his law degree Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:13:13). The expert witness responds that he specializes in Psychology.    

Dr. Michael Caldwell

Dr. Michael Caldwell introduces himself to the jury as a Senior Staff psychologist. He did private practice at the University of New Mexico.  He studied Psychology at Wisconsin University. Does evaluations for courts. Kansas State University first Bachelor’s Engineering but switched to Microbiology and later graduated with Life Sciences. He holds a Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. He also did internship with the US Army. Clinical services internships. He advised the court to take Weier to juvenile court after evaluating her since that is where her interests would be met Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:45:30-01:55-31).  

He met with Weier when she was a child. When determining responsibility, he determines whether the accused is a child. How adolescents deal with complicated situations, is different from how children do the same. Children are resistant to influence from peers, and are unlikely to differentiate between what is real and what is unreal. For example, kids can easily believe in Santa Claus Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:54:04-02:01:00). Adolescents have limited problem-solving abilities since they have not matured. Depressed people have attention deficits and cannot focus Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (02:05:00-02:07:09). Weier suffered delusional disorder on the day of the incident. She also had a depressive disorder.

Hypothetical & Difficult Questions

According to Dr. Rybroek Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:44:30-00:45:36), 40-60% of people who commit crimes say that they were crazy at the time so they must get an attorney to get off. Only 1% of people who commit a crime say they were not guilty. Only a quarter of one percent succeed in these cases.  He advised the court to take Weier to juvenile court after evaluating her since that is where her interests would be met.   

Expert Witness as Teachers

 Relevant Experience

Dr. Rybroek is a licensed practitioner in counseling and Law. He is also a Senior lecturer with over 25 years of teaching experience. He has been hired by defense previously Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:22:43-00:22:50). He’s published numerous articles related to his academic work. As a parent, he has experience in dealing with teenagers. He has testified before in court so his posture is calm.

Ability to Use A Recognizable Methodology

Next Generation Identification (NGI) Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:52:09-01:52:30). The Federal Bureau of Investigations states that NGI helps the judicial community in solving crimes (n.p.). Measures the brain’s response to treatment. Other methods have to do with the assessment of juvenile sexual offenders. Dr. Caldwell’s first publication involved assessment and treatment of people with PCP (Toxic Psychosis) dangerous people or people who are difficult to treat and adolescent development Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:53:00-01:54:00).

Ability to Teach That Methodology & Communicate the Resulting Conclusions

Dr. Caldwell explains how the methodology is used and how he reached the conclusions he submitted to the court. He elaborated that it is not unusual for a person to meet the criteria for being competent, but not meet the criteria for not guilty for reason of health disease or vice versa. There are different criteria and procedures used to conclude how to diagnose a patient. People are evaluated in different ways using different procedures Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:51:00-01:53:59).

He explains that this first had to do with the assessment and treatment of people with Toxic Psychosis (01:54:00-01:54:00). A delusion disorder is different from a delusion. A person with a delusion disorder has a delusion, but a person with a delusion may not have a disorder. For it to be a disorder, a person has to do things that can cause serious social problems Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (02:49:20-02:50:00).  

Good Witnesses Don’t Smile Much

In Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene(00:23:00-00:23:05)Dr.  Rybroek smiles and chuckles. Dr. Rybroek smiles as he takes pours water from a jug to his cup Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:48:09). He smiles as he explains his understanding of child development. A witness should not smile when testifying.  He also smiles as he explains how most teenagers cause road accidents when they are driving in the company of their peers. He attributes it to bad judgment when things are going wrong to peer influence Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:50:30-00:53:00).

Dr. Rybroek questioned Weier about the imaginary slender man and she described how slender man appeared flashing with light Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:55:00). He is impressed and smiles as he explains to the court Slender Man’s description. He describes how he visited the slender man website and got scared Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 (00:57:35-00:58:47. He added that there is a thin line between fiction and reality and it is difficult for a 12-year-old to draw the line. Dr. Caldwell smiled when asked by the prosecutor whether he said that Weier met the standards for NGI (Next Generation Identification) because he couldn’t get her to juvenile court Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (01:52:09-01:52:30). 

Goud Book Excerpt Testimony

Multiple Methods of Data Gathering

Both psychologists said that they first tried to obtain as much information as possible that’s part of the evidence of the case such as police reports (documents and records) the age of the accused, education level, witness accounts (interviews), interview their parents or spouses, criminal complaints, mental health services involved, teachers, therapists, etc. to understand the individual at the time the offense occurred. They also watched recorded videos of the two accused. All these involve interviews, documents and records, observation, and oral histories.

Turning an Expert Witness into A Great Witness

Clothing

Both Dr.  Rybroek and Dr. Caldwell wore nice professional looking suits to court with long-sleeved shirts and a tie. They were properly dressed as witnesses. They did not have any visible jewelry with them.    

The “I Don’t Know” Response

Dr. Rybroek says he’s sure how he got involved in the case since he was hired by the court Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17scene (00:23:25). He is honest. He was hired by the court to evaluate the case.

How Much to Say

Dr. Rybroek exhibits a very high level of professionalism Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17scene (00:25:08). He also directly sends his reports to the court, instead of the prosecutor. He was contacted by the prosecutor but he wrote to the court to request permission to talk to the attorney Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17scene (00:25:36). 

Narcissistic Experts

Dr. Rybroek gives percentages of the state rate of crime, comparing it with the national statistics Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17 scene (00:45:00-00:46:00). He is the only one who understands those statistics. He should have put it in a simple language without talking about a lot of figures. He even smiled to himself at the end of that explanation.

Opinion Testimony

Both psychologists (Dr. Michael Caldwell and Dr. Gregory Van Rybroek) evaluated Weier and diagnosed her with a shared psychotic disorder. This type of disorder is shared between two people or more (Parker, 183). One of them may have more significant or more observable psychotic disorders. They may have delusions, hallucinations, mood problems. The second person in this instance then shares at least one of these psychotic symptoms, mostly delusions. There is a special relationship between these two individuals. This type of disorder is not common. It is common in special relationships for example between parent and child, spouses, or siblings. In this case, it is unusual because it involves children.

Despite giving them contradictory information, they keep that delusion intact. For example, such a person may believe that someone operated on them, took out their organs and replaced their organs with those from another person. Despite your assurances that they do not have any scars on them, it won’t alter their delusion. People with bizarre delusions often say things that cannot happen in normal life.  Another example is that such a person may feel pain in their toes. They may believe that an alien has inserted tracking devices in their toes. The pain is real, but the alien is delusional.

These people behave normally as long as you don’t tap their delusion. They will talk normally about their family, education, or work history. You wouldn’t know they have this disorder. But the moment you ask about it, then you start getting all these beliefs about whatever their delusion makes them believe. They behave normally and you may not detect it. They may sound very believable, but their words do not have any basis if you compare them with reality.    

The two psychologists concluded that Morgan was the primary after analyzing all the evidence from the police reports and notes from other professionals. She had multiple symptoms of the disorder (Associated Pres, n.p.). Weier was a secondary, submissive or the recipient person. What they had in common was the delusion about sander man and what they needed to do to go to sander mansion and all his other killers, characters or proxies. Their relationship made it easy for the transfer of this delusion.

Critique

Dr. Rybroek lacks precision in the precision of his dates Anissa Weier Slender Man Trial Day 3 Psychologist Dr. Michael Caldwell Testifies 09/14/17scene (01:10:50-01:13:09). He admitted his mistake. He omitted some things he discussed with Weier. In law, statements of a defendant in criminal law are discoverable in both sides. As a lawyer, he should not have made that mistake. It is unusual for kids who are not related and are as young as 12 years to share a common delusion, yet they have barely known each other for four months. Morgan and Anisa met in October 2013 and by January 2014, they were already planning a murder. That is an unusually short time for a shared delusion to develop.  From Dr. Caldwell’s report, the accused were spending 40 to 80 minutes together every day. It is unusual but not impossible for a delusion to transfer from one person to another, yet they have known each other for a very short amount of time. The two expert witnesses presented by the defense directed their opinions formed on the based on incorrect information. Both Dr. Rybroek and Dr. Caldwell founded their opinions on the premise that Weier wanted to protect her family. According to another report, Weier did not know about Slander Man until the crime was over (Morgan told her after the crime). The opinions of these psychologists have no validity.   

Conclusion This paper critically analyzed Dr. Caldwell’s and Dr. Rybroek’s testimonies in the Anissa Weier Slender Man trial. Although her immaturity played a role in the development of her disorder, the disorder erred Weier’s ability to control her actions. The two perpetrators met towards the end of 2013, and it was at that time they became obsessed with the Slender Man website. Their delusion showed them that they had to kill their classmate to protect themselves and their families. Dr. Caldwell and Dr. Rybroek both agreed that Weier suffered a mental disorder at the time she committed the crime.

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