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Therapist Bought Shotguns, Warned Colleagues : Court: Psychologist says he got firearms for himself, his wife and girlfriend and told others in his building of possible danger from the Menendezes.

August 07, 1993|From Associated Press

A psychologist testified Friday that he bought shotguns and warned colleagues there could be "a dangerous patient situation" after two brothers he was treating told him they murdered their millionaire parents.

L. Jerome Oziel said he and his wife, Laurel, who practices psychotherapy with him, went to a sporting goods store four days after Erik and Lyle Menendez threatened to make him their next victim.

"We decided to buy shotguns based on the threats we perceived were emanating from Erik and Lyle," Oziel said under cross-examination by the defense.

He said they chose the same sporting goods store chain from which the Menendez brothers had bought the shotguns they used to kill their parents, entertainment executive Jose Menendez and his wife, Kitty.

Asked by attorney Leslie Abramson what kind of ammunition he bought, Oziel said, "Whatever the person (in the store) said was used in what we bought."

He said the three shotguns were for himself, his wife and his girlfriend, Judalon Smyth. But Oziel said they never practiced with the shotguns and acknowledged that he didn't know much about firearms.

He has said the Menendez brothers told him in two sessions Oct. 31 and Nov. 2, 1989, that they shotgunned their parents out of hatred and a desire to rid themselves of their father's domination.

The brothers say they killed in self-defense after years of sexual and psychological abuse.

Jose and Kitty Menendez were found slain in their $4-million Beverly Hills mansion Aug. 20, 1989. The brothers were not arrested until next March, when Smyth went to police.

"No one ever harmed you, Judalon or members of your family, did they?" asked Abramson, who represents Erik Menendez, 22.

"No, not physically," Oziel said.

He suggested that he had been harmed by the publicity about the Menendez case and the legal battles over whether he could break the confidentiality of his patients and testify.

He faces possible revocation of his license by the state psychology board, which has charged him with numerous ethical violations.

"Do you blame yourself for all these troubles?" Abramson asked at one point.

"I blame no one for all these troubles," Oziel said quietly.

"Just fate, is that it?" she asked.

"To a great extent," Oziel said.

About the time that he bought the guns, Oziel said, he warned other therapists who used office space in his building.

"The warning I gave them was there could potentially be a dangerous patient situation," he said, "and if they wanted to take any steps to ensure their security, they should." He said he didn't know if any of them took precautions.

Prosecutors have said they will rest their case early next week.

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