Meat Cleaver-Wielding Killer Faces Trial for a Third Time

In a 2008 photo, David Tarloff, center, is led out from a police station. Tarloff is standing trial in Manhattan court for killing a psychiatrist in February, 2008. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa)

In a 2008 photo, David Tarloff, center, is led out from a police station. Tarloff is standing trial in Manhattan court for killing a psychiatrist in February, 2008. (AP Photo/Andy Kropa)

This post has been updated with more information.

In February of 2008, a man wielding a meat cleaver broke into a psychiatrist’s office on the Upper East Side and hacked a doctor to death.

The killer, a 45-year-old named David Tarloff, has schizophrenia. He never denied killing Dr. Kathryn Faughey, but his lawyers argue that he is insane and should not be held liable. In addition to killing Faughey, Tarloff also severely injured another doctor, Kent Shinbach.

Tarloff’s trial began Monday in Manhattan Superior Criminal Court—the third time he faces a jury on charges of murder, attempted murder, assault and attempted robbery. Two previous trials ended in mistrials, the most recent last April, after the jury could not find a unanimous verdict. Three of the jurors at the time thought Tarloff was guilty of murder, while the rest decided against convicting.

According to testimony and previous reports, Tarloff had planned to break in to Shinbach’s office in order to steal $50,000 so he could take his elderly mother to Hawaii. Shinbach shared an office suite with Faughey in an Upper East Side apartment building.

During testominy Friday, employees of two different nursing homes where Tarloff’s mother Beatrice lived testified about Tarloff’s odd and sometimes dangerous behavior while visiting. According to one of the women, Susan Pauliny of Forest View Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing, Tarloff would verbally abuse and threaten staff members regularly. She said he would also steal food from residents’ trays.

Pauliny recounted an incident where Tarloff took his mother, who was in a wheelchair, and left the facility without permission or her needed medication.

Also Friday, Tarloff’s younger brother Robert took the stand. While testifying, Robert did not look at his brother, who was seated at the defense table wearing a grey long-sleeved T-shirt and grey sweatpants. He told the jury about his and David’s childhood and how David was normal and a popular guy in high school.

Robert recalled that David drastically changed after his first semester of college. “He was a completely different person. It took my breath away,” Robert said, describing David’s appearance at the time.

On Wednesday, during the third day of the trial, Robert Mooney, a former NYPD homicide detective who worked the case, testified that Tarloff admitted to killing Faughey. Mooney also relayed how Tarloff described being sexually molested as a child, and had deteriorating relationships with his father and brother.

Evan Krutoy, the assistant district attorney, then showed video of an interview at the precinct between Tarloff, Moody and another detective. In it Tarloff, referring to Faughey, said, “I did not know she was going to be there.”

Tarloff has an extensive mental health record, according to testimony. In 1991 he was involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, and Shinbach was one of his doctors.

Also Wednesday, Christopher Barbieri, the emergency room doctor who treated Shinbach, also took the stand to testify about the doctor’s injuries. “He had multiple cuts to his face and scalp, he had multiple cuts to his hands and wrists,” Barbieri said.

The prosecution displayed bloody photographs of Shinbach taken at the hospital, which showed his face and arms with large gashes.

Testimony will continue next week.