Schizophrenia claimed in LA train platform killing

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A defense attorney told a jury Thursday that a homeless woman who pushed an 84-year-old woman off a train platform to her death was an unmedicated schizophrenic who had been released from a hospital three days earlier.

The assertion by attorney Laurice Cheung came in the second trial for Jackkqueline Pogue. Her first jury deadlocked on the question of whether Pogue fully understood the consequences of her actions when she pushed Betty Sugiyama off the platform and onto the tracks.

Sugiyama struck her head and never regained consciousness.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Louis Avila cited statements attributed to Pogue by witnesses who heard her say she meant to kill the woman. He said she should be found guilty of murder.

Cheung said, "You will determine a crime occurred but it was not murder but something else."

Pogue has pleaded not guilty to a charge of second-degree murder but also entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Jurors, however, must reach a verdict on the underlying charge of murder before they address her mental state.

Cheung said Pogue had been arrested on March 3, 2010, for causing a disturbance at a Social Security office building and was taken to a hospital.

"It was determined she had a long history of schizophrenia and was not medication compliant," the attorney said. "She was discharged and her prognosis was fair to guarded."

Three days later, she said, Pogue was seen wandering around the Little Tokyo Metro station holding a blanket and throwing her shoes at someone.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority supervisor Arnold Johnson Jr. testified he had been alerted that there was "a lady hollering and screaming on the platform."

He identified Pogue as the woman and said he arrived in time to see her push Sugiyama onto the tracks.

"I screamed at her and asked why she did it," said the witness. But he could not recall what she said.

"There was a lot of commotion going on," he said, adding he jumped down beside the fallen woman to see if she was alive.

She was unresponsive and he quickly stopped all trains coming in that direction, he said.

A security camera provided grainy video of the incident which was shown to jurors in slow motion.

Sugiyama's older sister, Mary, who was with her, identified Pogue as the assailant. She said she could no longer remember statements she attributed to Pogue at the time.

But sheriff's Deputy Virginia Salazar remembered hearing Pogue yelling, "I killed her. I meant to kill her. I wanted to do that. Now take me back to CRC." The reference was to a county care home for the mentally ill.

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