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Psychiatrists Divided on Sanity of Killer of 5

Final arguments are scheduled for Monday in the sanity phase of Toufic Naddi’s murder trial after six psychiatrists split 3-3 over whether they considered Naddi sane or insane at the time of five 1985 murders.

Three psychiatrists presented by the defense said Naddi, 47, of El Cajon, was insane when he shot his wife, her parents, her cousin, and her brother-in-law June 1, 1985.

Three psychiatrists testifying for the prosecution said Naddi was sane and knew what he was doing was wrong at the time of the slayings.

Naddi has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The same San Diego Superior Court jury convicted him June 8 of five first-degree murder verdicts.

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“In my opinion, he did understand what he was doing,” testified Dr. Gary Weissberg, the last psychiatrist to testify Thursday.

“He had an appreciation of what taking the law into his own hands is,” Weissberg said.

Dr. Richard Rappaport, a defense psychiatrist, testified Wednesday that Naddi “built up a whole system of delusions.”

One of Naddi’s persistent beliefs was that his father-in-law, Habib Sabbagh, 73, had had sexual relations with Naddi’s wife, Aida, 26. Several psychiatrists said they thought that was a delusion.

“His illness made him think something was right which was wrong. For him, it was the will of God,” Rappaport said.

Naddi testified May 31 that God “set up the scene and it was His will that I kill these people.”

Also killed were Lillian Sabbagh, 58, and Michael Sabbagh, 38, in the Sabbagh house on Carlow Way in El Cajon.

Several psychiatrists noted that it wasn’t until 1987 that Naddi began to tell them that he believed he was invoking God’s will by killing his relatives.

“I think this whole thing about God’s will is rationalization,” Dr. Nancy McTigue said.

Wait Griswold, a prosecution psychiatrist who examined Naddi the evening of the shootings, said Naddi did not mention God in his talk with him.

“In my opinion, he was legally sane at the time,” Griswold said.

Anger Cited

All of the psychiatrists said Naddi was angry at Habib Sabbagh, and several said he talked about the need for his father-in-law to be punished.

Naddi was quoted as saying that he would be “a hero by the people” in Jordan if he committed the slayings in the Sabbagh family’s country because of the alleged incest.

The Sabbagh family was wealthy and well-known in Jordan, where Osama Mashini, 38, the brother-in-law of Aida Naddi, was an actor and comedian.

Most of the psychiatrists said they felt Naddi was honest in their interviews with him in the jail. Several said he suffered from paranoia.

If the jury decides Naddi was insane, the trial ends and Naddi will be committed to a state mental hospital, probably for life.

If they determine he is sane, the penalty phase will begin to determine his sentence. Jurors would only have two choices to recommend: death in the gas chamber or life without the possibility of parole.


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