Frantic Cry For Help

Braunstein burst through the door and put what she said was the steel barrel of a gun to her head and ordered her to lie face down on the floor, at which point he handcuffed her and told her he was going to choloroform' her, a nasty exercise he would repeat five times throughout the ordeal -- though the victim said she held her breath during subsequent attempts to drug her, and feigned unconsciousness.

She said she awoke hours later, bound, blindfolded and nearly nude on her bed, as Braunstein videotaped her apartment, according to the New York Post.

"This is her closet,'' she said she heard him say. "This is her hall closet."

The Post's Laura Italiano said the victim -- whose name is being witheld by ABC News because she was the victim of a sexual assault -- "gave a precise and amazingly clear-headed description of her ordeal, showing the same fortitude she did during the attack, even as she lay nearly naked on her bed, his knife on her nightstand."

Defense attorneys claim Braunstein's brain was so poisoned by undiagnosed paranoid schizophrenia that he couldn't form the intent to commit the crime necessary for a conviction. But, they say, he could and did commit it.

"We've never claimed he's so mentally ill that he couldn't function,'' Braunstein's lawyer Robert Gottlieb told the New York Daily News. "The question is, 'How could he form intent?' That's the beginning, middle and end of the defense case,'' he said.

Experts, both legal and medical, say that the field of neurology cannot offer anywhere near the kind of legal certainty of other scientific research breakthroughs, like DNA testing.

"Brain imaging is not mind-reading,'' Owen Jones, a professor of both law and biological sciences at Vanderbilt University, told ABC News' Law & Justice Unit.

"There is a large distance between anatomy and culpability, it's only one window of many into the multiple influences on behavior that can be relevant to understanding why a person acts in an anti-social manner,'' said Jones, co-author of "Law, Responsibility and the Brain" in the April issue of the journal PLOS Biology. Jones is considered by peers to be a pioneer in the emerging specialty field of 'neuro-law.'

Former federal prosecutor Jim Walden says neuro-law is a promising field of legal and medical research, but he is similarly skeptical of defenses that rest entirely on neurological impairments.

"I think, depending on the circumstances, it could be an incredibly powerful defense, but three immediate hurdles come to mind,'' said Walden, now practicing criminal defense with the New York firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. "One legal, one practical and one emotional."

The legal problem, said Walden, is that "whether or not the [brain imaging evidence] would be admissible under the Daubert test [a 1993 legal precedent that sets the bar for admissibility of expert testimony] which is an open issue in many courts.''

He continued: "The second hurdle is practical. Even assuming a judge lets you present this evidence, can you convey it in a way that jurors will understand? And the third is emotional -- even if jurors do understand this evidence, are they going to be able to reconcile their own conceptions of personal responsibility to accept what is, at bottom, an excuse for the conduct?"

"Only by getting over all three of these hurdles will a defense lawyer be able to succeed with this defense,'' Walden concluded.

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