Dr. Erik Monasterio, the psychiatrist who testified this week that Lauren Dickason was depressed but not insane when she killed her three children, was accused Wednesday of simply not liking Dickason.
Monasterio, who suspects that Dickason killed her children out of anger and frustration rather than love, denies this.
Anne Toohey, Dickason’s legal representative, questioned under cross-examination whether the opinion Monasterio formed about Dickason was clouded by prejudice.
Toohey specifically referred to Monasterio’s testimony on Tuesday during which he said that Dickason came from a “privileged” background and was “shocked” when she arrived in a less privileged Timaru.
“You just don’t like her, do you?” Toohey wanted to know from Monasterio.
“I disagree,” was Monasterio’s reply.
The High Court in Christchurch heard on Wednesday that after the deaths of Liané (6) and two-year-old twins Maya and Karla in September 2021, Dickason was placed under 24-hour surveillance in Hillmorton Hospital for a month due to her worsening depression and from fear that she would kill herself.
Dickason was also interviewed and evaluated by mental health experts, including Monasterio, for a total of 53 hours after the children’s deaths.
Monasterio became involved in the case at the state’s request and was the third psychiatrist to evaluate Dickason. He conducted four interviews with Dickason for a total of nine hours.
‘Confrontational’ interviews under scrutiny
Toohey put it to Monasterio under cross-examination on Wednesday that Dickason was “tearful and anxious” after meeting Monasterio for the first time.
According to Dickason, Monasterio “pushed her hard” to share the finer details with him.
Dickason was also “tearful and distressed” at times after Monasterio interviewed her.
“I’ve never talked so much in my life,” Dickason told staff at Hillmorton at one point after one of her interviews with Monasterio. Apparently her throat was sore from all the talking.
In the fourth interview, Monasterio accused Dickason of giving inconsistent and contradictory accounts of her past thoughts of harming the children.
Dickason, in turn, told the staff at Hillmorton that Monasterio made her feel “like a liar”. However, she insisted that she “hasn’t changed her story”.
“I put it to you that mrs. Dickason did not have a good relationship with you in that last interview,” Toohey told Monasterio in court.
Monasterio admitted that the interviews may have been “confrontational”, but maintained that during the fourth interview, Dickason disclosed information that she had previously “denied”.
Monasterio also explained that the interviews were challenging simply because he asked Dickason difficult questions. The questions included whether she harbored anger towards her children at the time of their deaths.
However, Monasterio pointed out in court that “context is everything” and that Dickason was more upset about the content of their conversations than the interview itself. “Those interviews were to carefully assess what happened.”
The trial resumes on Thursday.
Sources: Stuff.co.nz, NZ Herald