KINGSTON, N.Y. — Jury deliberations are expected to begin Wednesday in the murder trial of Seth Lyons.
The prosecution and defense rested their cases Tuesday after psychiatric experts offered conflicting testimony about Lyons’ mental health history and his mental state at the time he killed 49-year-old homeless man Anthony Garro.
Garro’s badly beaten body was found around 9 a.m. Nov. 29, 2017, beneath the Elmendorf Street overpass along the unused Ulster County-owned railroad corridor that runs through Midtown Kingston. Lyons, 20, of Ulster Park, has confessed to the attack, but the defense contends he didn’t mean to kill Garro and that he suffered from “extreme emotional disturbance.”
Lyons was spotted at a local convenience store a few hours after the fatal attack, still wearing the bloodstained clothes he had on at the time he beat Garro with his fists, a beer bottle, rocks, a brick and a tree stump.
He admitted to police that he pummeled Garro — first because he believed Garro had stolen his cell phone, then because he thought Garro was trying to sexually assault him.
On Monday, Dr. Stephen Price testified under questioning by defense attorney Bryan Rounds that Lyons suffered from bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, paranoia and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he had a long history of significant drug abuse. Price said Lyons’ actions were brought on by mental illness and drugs and were “triggered” by the belief that Garro was trying to sexually assault him.
The prosecution says Lyons intended to kill Garro because he believed Garro had stolen his cell phone and wouldn’t empty his pockets to prove he didn’t have the device.
Under questioning by Ulster County Chief Assistant District Attorney Michael Kavanagh, Price testified that Lyons was aware of what he was doing when he struck Garro repeatedly.
“And when he picked up that boulder and dropped it on him?” Kavanagh asked.
“It was all part of the beating,” Price said, adding that Lyons “intended to assault” Garro.
Dr. Kevin Smith, the psychiatrist called by the prosecution, rejected Price’s findings, saying that, in his opinion, “Seth Lyons did not lack the requisite capacity to form intent to commit the crime” and “did not suffer extreme emotional disturbance.”
Smith said Lyons suffered from an antisocial personality disorder with substance-induced bipolar disorder. The psychiatrist said he rejected the notion that Lyons suffered from “extreme emotional disturbance” at the time he killed Garro because he was able to recall details of the incident.
Under cross-examination, Rounds tried to elicit from Smith testimony that would show the prosecution witness was cherry-picking the psychiatric information he shared with jurors, reading off a laundry list of diagnoses from other medical professionals that Smith had not detailed for jurors, including that Lyons had been diagnosed as bipolar from a young age and that he had been hospitalized on at least five occasions since he was 14 specifically related to bipolar and anxiety disorders.
The two sides will deliver are to their closing statements to jurors when court resumes at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Ulster County Judge Donald A. Williams said he will give jurors the option of convicting Lyons of second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter or second-degree manslaughter. Additionally, if jurors find that the facts support all the elements necessary to find Lyons guilty of murder, he will allow jurors to decide whether the defense has proven to them that Lyons’ actions were the result of “extreme emotional disturbance.”