Gone But Not Forgotten
- Aug 18, 2002
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http://www.dailylocal.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=12463912&BRD=1671&PAG=461&dept_id=17782&rfi=6Accused shooter saw UFOs
R. JONATHAN TULEYA , Staff Writer
WEST CHESTER -- The attorney representing the man accused of shooting two sheriff’s deputies began to lay the groundwork for an insanity defense for his client.
Walter J. Rosengarth, 64, allegedly wounded the officers who had arrived at his home on the 400 block of Pierre Drive in East Marlborough on July 24, 2003, to serve him with an eviction notice. After the shooting, Rosengarth barricaded himself into his residence during a three-and-a-half-hour standoff with state police.
On Friday, his attorney, Christian J. Hoey, filed a motion at the Chester County Courthouse to determine Rosengarth’s criminal responsibility.
Next, Common Pleas Court Judge Howard F. Riley Jr. will decide whether the defendant will get a hearing to determine if he was criminally insane at the time of the shooting.
If he is found to be insane, Rosengarth will be acquitted of criminal responsibility. He would be committed to a mental hospital and the case would not go to trial.
If Riley denies the hearing request or the hearing takes place and determines the defendant was criminally liable, the case will go to trial. Rosengarth could still enter an insanity plea at that time.
Hoey’s motion included three written evaluations supporting his claim that Rosengarth was insane at the time of the shooting -- two from psychologist Gerald Cooke and two from psychiatrist Dr. Robert L. Sadoff.
Cooke described Rosengarth as experiencing "paranoid schizophrenic psychotic delusions" during the incident.
"He did not appear to be hallucinating," Cooke wrote in a letter to Hoey on Jan. 12, "but was acting under the belief that he was the victim of a conspiracy ..(I)t is my opinion that because of his paranoid delusion, he did not know what he was doing was wrong."
Sadoff reached a similar conclusion.
"Although he appears to be competent to proceed (to trial) in that he does know the nature and consequences of his legal situation and can work with counsel in preparing his defense," Sadoff wrote in a Feb. 9 letter, "it is my opinion that he would be in a stronger position had he the benefit of treatment and improvement in his psychotic condition."
Rosengarth told both analysts stories about being poisoned by a neighbor, suffering from cancer though he never had been diagnosed and seeing a UFO hovering near Kennett Square.
"He looked up, saw the UFO and said a prayer that the UFO would reverse itself and come back and, sure enough, it did," Sadoff wrote. "He said when it did, he froze and stopped. But then, he said he saw a message in the sky and he heard God talking to him ..the message in the sky was written in large capital letters, ‘Satan is real.’"
Hoey also filed a second motion on Friday to suppress videotaped statements Rosengarth made to police after his arrest. During the questioning, the defendant admitted to shooting at state police officers.
"And when you shot those guns, did you shoot at police or sheriffs?" interrogators asked.
"At them, no ..No, it wasn’t directly at them ..It was ... to get them the hell out of here," Rosengarth replied, according to a transcript of the interrogation. "I asked them to leave several times."
"But you realized that where you were firing, there were officers nearby?" police asked.
"Yes," Rosengarth replied.
The defendant also told police he would have shot officers had they attempted to enter his home with their guns drawn.
Riley has placed a gag order on the case, preventing Hoey and Chief Deputy District Attorney Robert L. Miller from discussing it with the media.
The standoff at Rosengarth’s home began around 11:30 a.m. when four sheriff’s deputies arrived to serve the man with an eviction order. The bank had foreclosed on the property for nonpayment of real estate taxes and had sold it at a sheriff’s sale for ,000 in December 2001, according to court records.
A judge ordered Rosengarth evicted from the home in June 2003.
At first, Rosengarth refused to open the front door for the deputies. Rosengarth then allegedly opened fire on the officers from inside of the residence, first hitting Deputy Joseph Smida in the face. Deputy James Boyd drew his department-issued Glock .40-caliber handgun to return fire and was shot in the hand.
Smida had to be airlifted to Temple University Hospital and Boyd was taken by ambulance to Jennersville Regional Hospital.
Shortly after 3 p.m. the defendant ended the standoffby waving a white flag and walking peacefully from his home.
Police recovered a cache of weapons from Rosengarth’s home, including an M-1 rifle, a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle.
Rosengarth has been charged with multiple counts of attempted homicide, aggravated assault and related offenses.