Fake Firefighter Targeted Anna Wintour

"Peter Braunstein's mental illness was so clearly the most textbook case of paranoid schizophrenia that I've ever seen in my experience," said Kirwin, who said she interviewed him during hospital visits in early 2006 and subjected him to a battery of tests, one of which is designed to uncover those who fake illness.

During one visit on March 29, 2006, she said Braunstein had a red abrasion on his forehead which was said to be the result of banging his head on the bars of his cell.

Kirwin said Braunstein's ultimate desire was to commit suicide, to go out "in an apocalyptic fashion," and that he was upset that he didn't succeed in that attempt upon his arrest, when he stabbed himself three times in the neck.

"He had given it his best shot," she said. "And he was kind of incredulous that he could stab himself in the neck and survive."

A Cocktail of Drugs

As a result of his suicidal behavior, Braunstein has been taking numerous drugs during the last year and a half while he's been detained at Bellevue Hospital -- a cocktail that includes the prescription drugs Zoloft, Prozac, Ambien, Halcien, Vicoden and Pherenol.

Kirwin said Braunstein began illegal drug use during his undergraduate years at George Washington University, when he self-medicated and "put himself in a marijuana haze." And in addition to drugs, he craved female companionship, which provided him with mental stability, she said.

"Women were his therapy," she testified.

He fell madly in love while studying abroad in France in 1985, and he and his girlfriend even talked about getting engaged. But the couple broke up when her family objected to the relationship.

That was the start of a long pattern in which Braunstein found temporary inner peace in romance but then spiralled out of control once each relationship ended, said Kirwin. That climaxed with the Larkworthy romance which ended in "an apocalyptic way," she said he told her.

Kirwin said Braunstein was surprised that his victim went to the police because he believed it was all just an innocent fantasy.

"He was just looking at it as a comic book crime," she said, adding that he felt sorry for the victim because she lost her job. She said Braunstein told her, "I didn't understand why she went to the police because I didn't think that it was a violent act."

According to Kirwin, Braunstein couldn't tell the difference between his consensual fantasies he acted out with Larkworthy and the assault on the victim.

Under cross-examination, prosecutors tried to undermine Kirwin's credibility by demonstrating that she apparently overbilled for her services and seemed to exaggerate her credentials. Assistant district attorney Maxine Rosenthal also questioned the fact that Kirwin did not interview Braunstein's friends, family and ex-lovers and that she did not have access to many of Braunstein's writings when she compiled her report in May 2006.

Braunstein once wrote that killers target their victims because "it reminds you of how you once had life in you and how it was slowly sucked away."

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