Two psychologists and two mental health therapists testified today in Jefferson County Circuit Court that Scott Lamar Abbott, a man accused in the stabbing deaths of four people in Hueytown last year, has a history of mental illness.
Psychologist Phillip Haynes testified that he treated Haynes in Gadsden several years ago and that Abbott was a victim of physical and sexual abuse. Abbott was diagnosed with depression and psychosis, Haynes said.
Lewis Hanson, a mental health therapist with CED (Cherokee, Etowah, Dekalb) Mental Health Center, said he provided counseling for Abbott, who is now 26, when he was 13. At that time, Hanson diagnosed Abbott with depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and noted he had been neglected by his mother.
Another therapist from CED Mental Health Center, Debbie Carter, testified that Abbott was referred to her when he was 19 because his girlfriend found him attempting to smother her 4-week-old baby and after he was caught, he attempted suicide. Carter said she saw Abbott again two years later after he had been arrested and attempted suicide in jail. She diagnosed him with depression and paranoia, she said.
Ronald Meredith, a clinical psychologist from Vestavia Hills, testified that Abbott, when he saw him, was a 25-year-old man with the emotional development of a 14-year-old. Meredith said Abbott knows the difference between right and wrong but has no impulse control to regulate behavior. He diagnosed Abbott as having a chronic mental illness, including bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
Meredith also testified that he had seen evidence of brain damage in Abbott, caused by exposure to pesticides and from being hit in the head twice -- once when he was younger by his mother's boyfriend and again at age 20 when he struck in the head by a bottle of alcohol.
Abbott is charged with capital murder in the deaths of William Chad Gilbert, 31; Jeri Lynn Cole, 27; Nika Sandlin, 24; and Joshua Gilleo, 26. He pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect. Testimony is to continue this afternoon in Jefferson County Circuit Judge Mac Parsons' courtroom in Bessemer.