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Defense witness: Robert Waters not legally responsible for beating death of fiancee's grandmother

A State Supreme Court Justice found Robert Waters,

A State Supreme Court Justice found Robert Waters, 24, of Centereach, guilty of second-degree murder in the June 2011 death of Florence Troiani, his fiancee's grandmother. Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff

A neuropsychologist testified Tuesday that Robert Waters of Centereach suffered an epileptic seizure and was not legally responsible for his actions on the night he is accused of beating his fiancee's 90-year-old grandmother to death.

"I believe he was not able to understand the nature and consequences of his actions and know they were wrong," William Barr, chief of neuropsychology at NYU Langone Medical Center in Manhattan, said as defense witness for Waters, 24.

However, under cross-examination by Suffolk County Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, Barr said he was not a medical doctor and was not qualified to make a medical diagnosis of epilepsy.

Barr said he didn't recall why he failed to note in his case report that police and medical personnel had found Waters was "alert and oriented" the night of the killing and said he was watching "Law & Order."

Kurtzrock called Dr. Mark Gudesblatt, a neurologist with a practice in Islip, who testified that if Waters had suffered a grand mal epileptic seizure on June 21, 2011, he would not have been capable of coordinated mental or physical activity.

"It is inconceivable" that someone could have a grand mal seizure and remember what show they had been watching, Gudesblatt testified. He likened such a seizure to "an electrical storm in the brain" causing severe convulsions.

Justice Fernando Camacho refused to allow Gudesblatt, a medical doctor, to offer an opinion on whether Waters was suffering from a mental defect that night so severe that he could not be held legally responsible for the death of Florence Troiani in the Centereach home she shared with her granddaughter, Denise Razzano, and Waters. The judge is hearing the case without a jury in state Supreme Court in Central Islip.

Camacho said he would rule Friday on whether Gudesblatt had enough information about the crime and Waters' background to render an informed opinion on his state of mind.

Defense attorney Anthony La Pinta has argued his client can't be held responsible for the death due to his medical condition. Kurtzrock has called Waters "just an angry, violent person."

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