Faye Doomchin thought of herself as a “simple housewife” picked to rid the world of evil, her husband testified Thursday before her lawyer rested an insanity-based defense case in the Great Neck woman’s murder trial.
Prosecutors say Doomchin, 68, intentionally plunged a knife into the belly of British tourist Denise Webster in August 2018 after the women returned to her home for cake and piano music with a mutual male friend after a lunch out.
Psychiatrist Jeremy Colley, a prosecution witness, repeated his opinion Thursday in Nassau County Court as he finished testifying that Doomchin, while mentally ill, wasn’t delusional at the time of the killing and knew right away what she did was wrong.
But the defendant’s husband, Michael Doomchin, then testified about what he described as the difficult life of a woman who has coped with mental illness since before the couple married 32 years ago.
He told defense attorney Robert Gottlieb her struggle had a common thread since around the time of her arrest in 1999 for a different, nonfatal stabbing in Great Neck and up until to the 2018 homicide.
“She said that she had this mission to make the world a better place, to rid the world of evil. And she didn’t understand why she had to be the one selected to do that,” Michael Doomchin testified. “She says, ‘I’m just a simple housewife taking care of my family. Why am I chosen to do this?’”
The defense witness also spoke of how his wife had been suffering from painful physical ailments before each of the stabbings.
In 1999, she attacked a stranger in a Great Neck real estate office. Doomchin later pleaded not responsible due to mental disease or defect after her arrest and underwent about a decade of outpatient psychiatric treatment.
The defendant’s husband said that attack happened at a time when she had severe back pain.
He also detailed medical problems his wife had leading up to slaying of Webster, 61, including a gall bladder removal in 2016 and then a hysterectomy, along with intense, chronic back pain and an unsuccessful root canal in late 2017.
In June 2018, the defendant had a knee replacement surgery, according to the witness, who recalled his wife remarking in the hospital then that a nurse was “sticking out her tongue to me.”
Forensic psychologist Chuck Denison, who previously testified for the defense, said Faye Doomchin has said that gesture shows the person is sending messages from “the devil.”
Denison also testified that Faye Doomchin’s other medical problems in 2018 were stressors that made her more likely to be overcome by “a positive symptom phase” of previously diagnosed schizophrenia at a time when her psychiatric treatment was minimal.
For a third day, the defendant participated in her trial virtually from Nassau’s jail through a Skype videoconference link. She became emotional Thursday as her husband also recalled that two of her beloved friends, including the rabbi who married the couple, had died in 2018 before Webster's killing.
Faye Doomchin, her husband also said, would occasionally claim in the months before the homicide that she was “being attacked by the devil” while asleep or interpret stiffness in her arms as being “under attack.”
The couple’s daughter, Leora Doomchin, 24, began testifying next. But both the college student, who was present for deadly stabbing, and her mother began crying. The defense then excused the daughter as a witness.
Gottlieb and prosecutor Martin Meaney are expected to make their closing arguments Friday in the history-making trial.
Court officials said the proceeding before acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert Bogle marks the first time in New York that a criminal defendant has virtually participated in her or his trial from jail.
They said it also is the first criminal trial on Long Island since the coronavirus pandemic forced many court closures, and the state’s first “hybrid criminal trial” — featuring both live and virtual testimony.