Ex-White House attorney going for insanity defense
Published 11:17 am, Sunday, February 24, 2013
A former White House attorney charged with trying to kill his wife in their gated New Canaan mansion three years ago is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation hoping to bolster his claim he was insane at the time.
Farren, who served as general counsel and vice president of external affairs for Xerox Corp. and as undersecretary of commerce for international trade under President George H. W. Bush, must wear a GPS tracking device and is restricted from leaving home.
Farren is accused of nearly beating his wife to death with a metal flashlight.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Richard Colangelo said he hoped more would be known at the next court appearance about the evaluation a New Haven psychiatrist is conducting on Farren. Riccio said Farren has already begun the evaluation and he did not know whether it would be completed by March 22.
According to attorneys and Farren, who has written numerous court motions, the case has been held up because his wife has, "engaged in an aggressive course of conduct to deny (him) any access to his personal financial resources to effectively defend himself."
In an August motion, Farren called himself "indigent" and asked that charges of attempted murder, first-degree assault and first-degree strangulation be dropped. The motion was denied. His lawyers asked to withdraw from the case because they have not been paid and have lost the confidence of Farren in pursuing a fair disposition of the case. Those motions were denied.
Riccio would not say how Farren paid an estimated $25,000 for the psychiatrist's mental evaluation.
In a Jan. 25 notice to the court of Farren's intention to present an insanity defense, Riccio said, "The defendant ... hereby provides notice that he intends to rely upon the affirmative defense of mental disease or defect or of extreme emotional disturbance at the time of the alleged crime."
Riccio said he wants a court trial with a judge instead of taking the case to a jury, a common strategy in cases where defendants pursue an insanity defense.
Riccio said the case will probably not go to trial before July.
Farren is accused of attacking his then-wife with a 20-inch metal flashlight, breaking her jaw and bones on her face on Jan. 6, 2010. Mary Farren escaped the couple's $4 million home after hitting the panic alarm and driving to a nearby house with her two young daughters, his arrest affidavit says. The attack occurred a day or two after Mary Farren served her husband with divorce papers.
Farren spent six months in jail before his release to a psychiatric facility after posting a $750,000 court appearance bond.