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Doctor says Williford's judgement was impaired while assaulting Kathy Taft

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TWC News: Doctor says Williford's judgement was impaired while assaulting Kathy Taft
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RALEIGH -- An expert witness believes the man accused of killing state Board of Education member Kathy Taft did not have the mental ability to weigh the consequences of his actions.

Over the past week, jurors heard Jason Williford has a variety of mental disorders including bi-polar disorder, depression and sex addiction.

On Friday, a psychologist told the jury those disorders coupled with drugs and alcohol impaired his judgement during the crime.

"Mr. Williford stated he was horrified by what he had done," recalled Dr. Jim Hilkey, a psychologist who analyzed the defendant after his arrest.

There are facts about Taft's murder that state and defense agree on. They said Williford broke into her boyfriend's Raleigh home, hit her in the head several times with a rock and raped her.

His DNA was left at the scene of the crime to prove it.

Now the jury must now consider if Williford was capable of planning and deliberating his attack on Taft.

Dr. Hilkey said Williford's mental disorders and use of drugs and alcohol impaired his judgement.

"I do not believe that Mr. Williford had the ability to deliberate or to consider the consequences of his behavior, although I do think there was an element of planning and I do think he could plan to some extent," the psychologist said to jurors.

During cross-examination, the state pointed out Williford tried to cover his tracks by putting socks on his hand before breaking into the house. Hilkey said the defendant also attempted to conceal the rape.

"He had gone to the kitchen and and gotten some disinfectant and sprayed it on her…," Hilkey testified, recalling Williford's recollections of the incident.

The state asked if those efforts meant Williford knew what was going on.

"That he understood some effects of the consequence after the fact," said Hilkey.

However, the expert witness maintains the dictionary describes deliberating as careful consideration before making a decision, which he feels Williford could not do in his mental state.

"It is my opinion, in that state of mind, Mr. Williford did not have the opportunity to deliberate," Hilkey said.

The jury will have to decide if he had the mental ability to commit premeditated murder.
If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

So far, the defense has called over half dozen witnesses to the stand. The state called more than 20 witnesses. The jury was dismissed early Friday for Memorial Day weekend.

Testimony will continue on Tuesday.

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