An Oceanside lawyer pleaded not responsible for stabbing her mother to death due to mental illness, attorneys said on Tuesday.
The Nassau district attorney’s office confirmed the plea by Suzan Grossman-Kerner, who had been charged with the murder of her mother, Irma Grossman, 79, in August 2015.
“This is one of the top heart-wrenching cases; when somebody kills their mother, there has to be real, real mental illness here,” her lawyer, Todd D. Greenberg, said by telephone.
Grossman-Kerner “was a successful attorney, with three kids, and a good job — and she snapped,” he said, noting her husband, also an attorney, has stood by her.
Her collapse began after superstorm Sandy in 2012 destroyed some of her belongings, said Greenberg, who documented his client’s psychiatric history in a presentation before acting state Supreme Court Justice Meryl J. Berkowitz.
“She grew depressed, delusional, dysfunctional; the mental illness, as her doctor said, ‘took a severe, unrelenting mental course,’ ” her attorney said.
As a patient at Zucker Hillside Hospital, Grossman-Kerner underwent 40 electroconvulsive therapy treatments, he said.
“And she felt that harmed her,” Greenberg said.
“Basically, she blamed her mother and her husband for the particular treatment she received,” he said.
Glen Oaks-based Zucker Hillside Hospital is part of Northwell Health. Citing patient confidentiality laws, a Northwell spokesman declined to comment.
On Aug. 17, 2015, Grossman-Kerner went to her mother’s Terrell Avenue home in Oceanside, where the two argued over “her daughter’s ongoing medical conditions,” police said at a news conference on the following day.
“The daughter, enraged, ultimately stabbed her mother to death,” Det. Capt. John Azzata said at the time.
The mother was pronounced dead at South Nassau Communities Hospital at about 2:55 p.m.
Grossman-Kerner called 911 about 12:48 p.m. and told authorities her mother had been assaulted. She was arrested at the scene and then charged with murder in the second degree.
Since her arrest, Grossman-Kerner has spent most of the time in Nassau County jail, her lawyer said.
She also has been examined by a doctor chosen by the prosecutors, he said, thanking the Nassau district attorney’s office for “doing the right thing” in this case.
Two psychiatrists now will examine her to determine whether “she is dangerously mentally ill,” her lawyer said, and present their findings to the judge on June 19.
If they determine she is dangerous, Grossman-Kerner will be sent to a secure psychiatric hospital, and re-examined periodically to see if she has improved enough to be transferred out.
Said her lawyer: “Ms. Grossman-Kerner has an opportunity and will receive the proper psychiatric care and hopefully get herself back to a normal state.”