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Judge considers whether McHenry man with brain injury is fit for trial

William Chrisman
William Chrisman

A judge will determine whether a man who shot himself in the head during an alleged attempted murder-suicide is psychologically well enough to stand trial.

Clinical psychologist Robert Meyer testified Thursday that William Chrisman is technically fit for trial, but would require a series of “safeguards.”

McHenry police arrested Chrisman on Feb. 27, after he was released from more than a monthlong hospital stay for a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Chrisman is accused of shooting his wife before turning the gun on himself Jan. 15. The woman was treated for a bullet graze wound and released shortly afterward. Chrisman, however, was left with poor memory and serious learning difficulties, his attorney wrote.

Chrisman doesn’t remember much of the past year, and only knows of the charges against him through his attorneys, Meyer testified. A psychological evaluation revealed Chrisman has difficulty weighing consequences, but understands basic legal terms and can communicate with his attorneys, Meyer said.

If Chrisman’s case were to go to trial, attorneys would need to move at a “slow pace” and “frequently check in to make sure he understands” the proceedings, Meyer said. Defense attorney Jeffrey Altman argued his team isn’t qualified to recognize or assist Chrisman throughout trial.

Prosecutor Victor Escarcida asked the judge to rely on Meyer’s professional opinion that Chrisman’s brain injury wasn’t severe enough to hinder a potential trial.

McHenry County Judge James Cowlin will announce his decision Oct. 12.

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