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Defense wraps up case in Rivers murder trial

The defense wrapped its case on day eight of the William Ian Rivers murder trial Tuesday (11 September) with evidence from the doctor who saw him five times during his incarceration.

Dr. Omo Tayo Bernard testified in Grand Court saying she stood by her initial assessment that Mr. Rivers not only had a psychotic disorder, but also he was not faking the baseline symptoms used to diagnose such disorders.

In response to defense attorney, Crister Brady’s questions, Dr. Bernard cited improvements in Mr. Rivers  changes in his behaviour over the course of their sessions as one of the reasons she believed this.

According to Dr. Bernard, when she first saw Mr. Rivers, his irritability prevented them from completing their first session. She said he reported auditory hallucinations and thoughts of harming himself and others.

She said she increased the dosage of his anti-psychotic medication to its recommended upper limit and placed him on a sedative and a sleep aid. Dr. Bernard said this was done to ensure Mr. Rivers safety as well as that of those around him.

Dr. Bernard said over the remaining four sessions, Mr. Rivers’s behaviour and mood improved and he reported a decrease in both the hallucinations he experienced as well as, thoughts of wanting to harm himself or others.

Dr. Bernard told Mr. Brady it would have been unethical, even criminal to prescribe this medication to Mr. Rivers without being sure that it was appropriate for him.

She also said it was possible that Mr. Rivers could have have been experiencing psychotic symptoms since his teens and this could have gone unnoticed because his family was either unwilling to report it or not trained to recognise what it was seeing.

Under cross-examination from Prosecutor Queen’s Counsel Cheryll Richards, Dr. Bernard admitted she had not reached a conclusion on the specific psychotic disorder that Mr. Rivers might be suffering from and, that she had not tested him for malingering or the possibility that he might be faking or exaggerating his symptoms.

Closing arguments from both the prosecution and the defense will begin Wednesday (12 September) morning.

About the author

Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs

Natalie Briggs has worked in television, radio and print since 2002, including stints at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT/CNMG), Radio 97, The Trinidad Guardian and Newsday. She has an MA in Media, Communications and Public Relations.

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