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New Canaan man facing attempted murder charges claims brain disease

Published 11:23 am, Wednesday, June 12, 2013
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A former White House lawyer preparing his own insanity defense for an upcoming trial where he is accused of trying to kill his wife with a metal flashlight in their New Canaan mansion in 2010 claimed doctors examining his brain have found evidence of a brain defect or disease.

John Michael Farren, 60, made the announcement Tuesday morning during a hearing at state Superior Court in Stamford, saying the evidence was discovered after an MRI of his brain in April.

Farren, who is facing a 70-year prison sentence if convicted of attempted murder, two charges of first-degree assault and risk of injury to a minor, worked for both Bush administrations and is a Connecticut corporate attorney.

New Canaan police arrested him on Jan. 6, 2010, after he allegedly broke Mary Margaret Farren's jaw with a flashlight a day after she served him papers seeking to end their 12-year marriage.

Farren, who is free on bond but must wear a tracking device while staying with a West Hartford relative, is requesting to have his cars and personal property from his home at 388 Wahackme Road in New Canaan and travel in-state looking for work, attend expert consultations and daily activities.

As a result of the test, Farren's doctors, Howard Zonana and Godfrey Pearlson, have asked that he undergo a CT scan of his brain, which is scheduled for Thursday at Hartford Hospital.

Farren, who is being pressed for a medical/psychiatric report from Zonana and Pearlson by Judge Richard Comerford as he tries to schedule the case for trial, said the anomaly has required further testing.

Farren said the CT scan would give the doctors more precise data so they can determine what type of a report they will be issuing, which he will presumably use at trial.

Comerford said Farren should continue with the testing, but the judge told him he should tell his doctors that he wants their report soon.

"I don't want to sit on this for very much longer," Comerford said.

Farren assured the judge that any delay would be because the doctors have found something needing further examination.

Comerford, meanwhile, denied Farren's motions for contempt charges and to throw out medical evidence of his ex-wife's injuries because State's Attorney David Cohen withheld the reports from him.

Cohen said Farren was offered the reports when they last met in court in May and he was unable to describe how receiving the information at that time hurt his case. Besides, he said, Farren's attorney working on a civil suit filed by his ex-wife already had the medical reports.

Comerford decided not to take up Farren's new motion for permission to pick up his personal property and cars and travel for work and daily necessity. Comerford said he did not have a chance to study the document.

Farren spent six months in jail before posting $750,000 bond and being granted permission to transfer to a psychiatric facility. After being released from the facility, he was given permission to live with his sister in West Hartford while wearing a tracking device.

In his motion Farren, said a court order has confined him to the West Hartford residence, prison and a hospital for 1,251 days -- since the 2010 incident -- and has been unable to find work to support his legal defense, medical costs or daily living requirements.

"The excessiveness of the conditions, the restrains imposed without legitimate governmental purpose and the nature of the rights infringed go far beyond the stand of sufficiency ... and have inflicted harm that is, indeed, punitive in reality and by deliberate intent," he said.

Modifying his terms of release are necessary, reasonable and will be a critical factor of his being able to defend himself against the charges against him, Farren said in the motion.

He is to return to court on July 2.