The defense and prosecution will present expert witnesses with differing opinions about the state of Hargrove’s mental health before, during and after the slayings of 18-year-old Allyson Pederson and her parents, Sharon and Andrew Hartley, on Feb. 9, 2008.
First up was defense witness Barry Crown, who holds a doctorate in psychology and specializes in neuropsychology. He told the Richmond County Superior Court jury Saturday that his speciality is the
study of the relationship between brain function and behavior.
Over a four-year period, Crown said, he administered tests to Hargrove to measure his intellectual ability and possible organic brain damage. He also gave Hargrove a test to measure effort and motivation to weed out possible malingering.
In Crown’s opinion, Hargrove is intellectually disabled with significant neuropsychological damage. His scores on the test for effort and motivation were high enough that Crown said he did not believe Hargrove was faking.
Under cross-examination, Crown agreed that someone facing a possible death sentence had reason not do his best in testing. But he said studies have found that while a skilled neuroscientist could fake test results, he couldn’t do so on
repeated tests without discovery.
Hargrove’s defense team is seeking a verdict of guilty but mentally ill. If convicted of murder, the jury will be asked to determine Hargrove’s sentence – life in prison with or without the possibility of parole or death.