Andre Williams no fan of Trump

Psychologist testifies about political interest

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By GUY VOGRIN

Tribune Chronicle

WARREN —  A forensic psychologist who interviewed convicted killer Andre Williams in March testified she learned the inmate watched a lot of  television coverage of the presidential campaign and had a low opinion of  President-elect Donald Trump.

“Mr. Williams said he wasn’t fond of  Trump because he didn’t think he was a particularly bright individual,” Dr. Carla S. Dreyer testified Thursday during the Trumbull County Common Pleas Court  hearing to determine whether Williams is intellectually disabled.

Dreyer, who is the state’s first witness in the weeklong hearing, spent all day on the stand and refuted earlier testimony from defense experts. In March, Dreyer gave Williams an adaptive behavior assessment, and she said the composite score of  79  was 14 points higher than the score resulting from the same test administered by defense expert Cynthia  Hartung.

Dreyer, who works for the Court Clinic Forensic Services of Cincinnati,  said her best professional opinion shows Williams not to be intellectually disabled.

“He has a very good memory,” Dreyer said about the defendant, who provided details of his prison career, his interviews, the disputed evidence in his 1989 trial and the appeals process.

Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay will make the final determination about Williams’ status after this week’s hearing. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to execute someone who is intellectually disabled.

Williams, 49, was sentenced to death in the Feb. 17, 1989, beating death of George Melnick, 65, of Warren, and the beating, blinding and attempted rape of Melnick’s wife, Katherine. He has lost a series of appeals in an effort to get off death row.

This week’s hearing is a result of a order from the U.S. Sixth District Court of Appeals that issued a temporary stay of execution pending the outcome.

In addition to talking about Trump, Dreyer said Williams was very interested in the presidential candidacy of Ohio Gov. John Kasich during the 2016 primaries.

“He seemed to feel that this (campaign) may have impacted the execution issue in Ohio,” Dreyer said, noting that Williams understood the role a governor plays in state executions.

Dreyer said the court has to be cautious about the adaptive behavior scores because the tests doesn’t take in motivational factors and the fact that Williams lives in prison.

“For example, he doesn’t have an ATM card, or access to a cell phone to call for a repair man so on some questions, he scored zeroes,” Dreyer said.

The psychologist said Williams does, however, have the ability to successfully advocate for himself.

Assistant Prosecutor LuWayne Annos presented several documents showing Williams filing written complaints about being shorted $10 in his commissary account, complaining about missing issues of Jet Magazine and a typed complaint showing his frustration about searches of his cell and correction officers causing damage. Another issue introduced by Annos was a communique by Williams about a conflict with an individual officer.

“He wrote  this ‘correction officer was constantly nitpicking me’,” Annos said.

Dreyer also noted that despite grammar and spelling errors, Williams is able to communicate his thoughts and ideas well. He also uses a calendar to keep track of his emails.

“I think this is part of his compulsiveness, he organizes himself well,”  Dreyer said.

The state today is expected to call one more expert, Dr. Thomas G. Gazley of the Forensic Psychiatric Center of Northeast Ohio Inc., before McKay can begin deliberating the evidence.

gvogrin@tribtoday.com

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