Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson (Keith Ablow)

Our Gryphon Editions volume includes an exclusive Introduction by Alan Dershowitz:

“The author of “Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson”—the distinguished forensic psychiatrist Keith Ablow—believes that Scott Peterson was not guilty of murdering his wife Lacey and their unborn son Connor. This conclusion may sound surprising to those who watched Dr. Ablow on television denouncing Peterson as a murderer. I too was surprised at Dr. Ablow’s conclusion that Peterson was not guilty, especially after reading the compelling evidence that he has assembled purporting to prove that Peterson murdered his wife and their unborn son in cold blood.

Why then has he concluded that the killer was not guilty? He tells us in his own words, hypothesizing a situation in which he had been called as an expert witness to testify at the Peterson murder trial:

“At the end of my testimony, Mark Geragos, Scott Peterson’s attorney, would have asked me whether I believed his client was insane.

My answer, with medical certainty, would have been yes.”

There is no legal or logical inconsistency between a defendant having done the deed, in this case killing his wife, and being not guilty of the crime, in this case murder in the first degree. Someone who shoots in self-defense has killed, but has not committed murder. So too, a husband who kills his wife as the result of insanity is not guilty. Hard as it may be to accept there is no legal difference between a defendant who is acquitted on grounds of self-defense and a defendant who is acquitted on grounds of insanity. Both free of any legal culpability. The practical consequences might be quite different. The defendant who acted in self-defense will be free to live his or her life, and may even be commended for his actions. The person who is acquitted by reasons of insanity will generally be committed to a mental hospital and will surely be condemned for his actions.

In this case, as we all know, Scott Peterson was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. Dr. Ablow did not testify and Peterson was not found insane.

Dr. Ablow assures us that he is “certain” that he knows “exactly” what was in Peterson’s mind. He says he has made it possible for television viewers, who have listened to his assessment, “to actually see into his soul.” (pp 8)

I’m not so sure.

In her introduction, Catherine Crier cites great literature, such as Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment as illustrative of the ability of great writers “to illuminate the human condition.” She also tells us that Dr. Ablow has written fictional accounts of crimes, using a fictional psychiatrist who can probe the mind of criminals. But real life is different than fiction. It is messier, less linear, more multifaceted….

In the body of the book, Dr. Ablow tries to fit every fact, every gesture, every denial, every omission into this “perfect storm” narrative. He is quite compelling, but the reader is entitled to wonder whether the storm was really so perfect, so neat, so predictable. Or perhaps whether Soren Kierkegaard may have been right when he cautioned that “life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” This book looks backwards at a life that was lived forwards. Backwards is neater, more linear than forwards, because when we look backward, we know the outcome. But when we look forward, there is always uncertainty. What if Peterson had never met Amber Frey at a bar in Fresno? Would he still have killed his wife?

…Dr. Ablow tells his readers that he is “certain” that he now knows the truth. Now you will, too.

That was not my experience in reading this fascinating account. I am still not certain. Perhaps you will be. Perhaps not.”


Gryphon Editions customers are able to purchase their own personal edition here on our website. This SPECIAL SALE will only last a week so don’t wait!

ablow

 

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