Harrison Graham: The Corpse Collector
On January 28, the pre-trial hearings began. Graham was ruled competent to stand trial, based on the reports of five court-appointed experts. They said that during his evaluation sessions, he'd been calm, friendly, and alert. He did show evidence of personality disorders, but he understood the legal proceedings well enough to participate. He seemed to understand that he potentially faced the death penalty, but believed that God was watching over him "and lets me know he still loves me." (He went to court with rosary beads in his belt.) Even the defense attorney's psychologist, who had initially found him incompetent, had changed his opinion. While he was probably mildly retarded, he said, he functioned at a high intellectual level. Two of the experts indicated that Graham had been faking his disorganized state during his earlier hearing. Now he was lucid and clear, thanks largely to anti-psychotic medication.
In early February, there was a two-hour hearing to determine which part of the prosecutor's evidence would be admitted. More than 100 gruesome photographs of the apartment were entered as exhibits. When Graham saw them he waved them off as the deeds of "a very sick" person, and then chuckled, although he added that it hurt his stomach to see them. Judge Robert Latrone ordered Moldovsky to keep him quiet or "he may bury himself just by opening his big mouth."
Charles Johnson, the ME's investigator, offered testimony about his experiences during the investigation and he described how he'd found each of the seven bodies. He posted the photographs as slides on poster boards and the judge came down from the bench to examine each one.
Moldovsky had requested a closed hearing, but attorneys for the newspapers protested, so he withdrew the motion. Journalists from the Daily News and the Inquirer were in attendance, and Dave Racheer recorded Moldovsky saying that Graham was happy to have the press there because they would then hear how he'd been treated under interrogation. Supposedly, the police had beaten and otherwise coerced him, which had provoked an involuntary confession. The police denied the charges.
Later during this hearing, Graham stood up and growled, "You're lying," at ADA Roger King. Deputies rushed to control him should he show evidence of aggression, and Graham's mother, present in the courtroom, asked him to be quiet. His comment apparently was in response to King, who muttered, "You should get a better defender." In fact, the entire trial would prove to be an antagonistic and even personal struggle between the two attorneys.