Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joseph Kallinger, the Enigmatic Cobbler

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The jury took less than an hour to find Kallinger guilty.   One of them told the press that she had never believed that the defendant was out of touch with reality, as presented by the attorneys.  Another juror said, "The insanity issue didn't confuse us."  Some of them believed that Kallinger had faked his responses to the insanity examinations.

The defense had seven days to appeal the verdict.

Just before sentencing, Berkowitz asked Judge Dowling for reconsideration of another competency hearing.   He felt that certain things had occurred in prison just prior to this trial that merited a re-examination.  Purportedly, for example, Kallinger felt there was a ghost in his cell—the torso of a boy named Charlie, who talked with him and persecuted him.  Berkowitz wanted a pre-sentence psychiatric examination.

Judge Dowling pointed out that the defense's own experts had not felt that Kallinger's condition justified a defense of insanity.   They had been on the fence about his mental condition.

Berkowitz countered that he was not discussing legal insanity but the condition of schizophrenia that needed to be considered and treated in the context of present competency to be sentenced.   He admitted to the strength of the state's physical evidence implicating Kallinger in the Harrisburg-area crime, but thought that the single-day incident had to be judged in the context of Kallinger's life as an adoptee with a mental illness and a history of family disturbances, who had been harassed for some time by the police and falsely arrested.  While in jail before, his business had run down to nothing.  Two weeks after his most recent arrest, his mother had died, and his daughter had a rare disease.

"The circumstances involving all these events in his personal life," Berkowitz went on, "conspired to break down this man's ability to live as a sociable human being."     

He asked the court for mercy.

The judge simply told Kallinger that he was an evil man who had not only treated his victims badly but had told one that he would return to "get" her.   He had also exposed a 12-year-old boy to his crimes, and "to corrupt your own son is vile and depraved."  He viewed the defendant as violent and dangerous, and sentenced him to not less than 30 and not more than 80 years in the State Correctional Institution at Rockview. 

Kallinger, who had the right to speak at that time, declined to do so.

Preparations to extradite him to New Jersey for his murder trial were already underway.  He awaited this in Huntingdon State Correctional Institution.

Downs says that with the verdict and sentence, Kallinger began to realize that he had to do something more drastic to bring attention to his mental illness.  Whereas he had not acted out in his jail cell before, he started up now.  He threw excrement at guards, stopped up his toilet to keep "Charlie" from getting him, placed cups of water under his bed, and mixed his urine with plum juice and orange juice to pass it off as evidence that he was ill.  The consulting psychiatrist there who observed him each day believed he was faking.

Dr. Hume went in to do another evaluation for competency and came to the same conclusion.   Joseph Kallinger was not mentally ill.  He was trying to impress people with symptoms that he simply did not have.  In fact, now that he had observed him for some 28 hours at the trial, he thought that Kallinger was clear-headed enough to consult with his attorney and to be in touch with reality.  He was a manipulator.

Then Kallinger's new defense attorney, Paul Giblin for the New Jersey trial, hired Dr. Irwin Perrs from Rutgers University Medical School.  Perrs spent 14 hours interviewing Kallinger, and decided that he was schizophrenic.  He had seen the reports of Hume and others who had close contact with Kallinger, but thought that the man evidenced certain borderline symptoms of psychosis.  Yet he also admitted that "much of the behavior is not in keeping with psychosis...much of the behavior has had a ...'game playing' quality."  He noted that Kallinger seemed to enjoy perplexing people who were interviewing him. Nevertheless, Perrs concluded that Kallinger did not appreciate the nature of his actions and was eligible for the insanity defense.

But even as these doctors examined him, Kallinger was enlisting his own spokesperson.


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