Pella Chronicle

CNHI/Southeast Iowa

September 28, 2012

Clinical psychologist testifies in Arterburn trial

OSKALOOSA — The clinical psychologist who examined Brad Arterburn on April 20 testified in his first-degree murder trial Friday.

The prosecution rested its case when Friday’s session began at 8:30 a.m. Arterburn’s defense counsel presented its case by calling mental health professionals to the witness stand.

Dr. Eva Christiansen is a clinical psychologist at the mental health institute in Cherokee. She did a six-hour psychological evaluation of Arterburn.

Arterburn, 27, of Oskaloosa, has been charged with the first-degree murder of his mother’s boyfriend, Horovitz, 58, of Davenport, on June 19, 2011. Arterburn entered a plea of not guilty in Mahaska County Court July 12, 2011.

During her evaluation of Arterburn, Christensen did interviews, and administered IQ and psychological tests.

Psychological tests indicated that Arterburn felt he could not handle things under stress. While being stressed, Arterburn could lose grounding with reality, Christensen said.

“Brad doesn’t have a lot of personality resources to deal with problems,” she said.

Christensen said the results of the MMPI 2 test were telling.

“I thought it was a cry for help,” she said.

Christensen said the results of a sentence-completion test showed that Arterburn identified himself as a victim of sexual abuse and that he was also a compliant, caring, nice guy.

She said at the beginning of the session, Arterburn’s demeanor was “very quiet, flat, not much emotion.” However, during the interviews, “he had a meltdown.”

Christensen diagnosed Arterburn with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with disassociative episodes.

Christensen also talked about Arterburn’s account of childhood sexual abuse by David Myers. They included accounts of acts performed by Myers on him as well as on his pet dog in Arterburn’s presence.

As a result of such abuse, children tend to have poor peer relationships, trouble in school and defiant behavior at home, Christensen said.

Christensen believed Arterburn had trouble distinguishing between Myers and Horovitz.

“I thought he believed that he was going to be molested again,” Christensen said.

Christensen said Arterburn did not know the nature and quality of his actions on June 19, 2011.

“I don’t think he was thinking ‘right or wrong.’ He was reacting,” she said.

Christensen said that Arterburn’s flashbacks to his childhood abuse were triggered by Horovitz’s wearing of khaki pants, like his abuser, and references Horovitz made toward Arterburn’s dog.

During accounts of Arterburn’s contact with Horovitz recounted during the trial, Horovitz had said to Arterburn, “I like your dog.”

She also mentioned a promise Arterburn’s mother had made to him — if her boyfriend made him uncomfortable, she would break off the relationship. She did not break off her relationship with Horovitz after Arterburn told her his misgivings.

Under cross-examination, prosecutors point to the interview DCI agents had with Arterburn where he mentioned killing Horovitz. The prosecutor also said that “I don’t know” and “I can’t remember” are common responses during suspect interviews.

Other mental health professionals testified earlier in the day about Arterburn’s psychological treatment and medications throughout his life.

The trial resumes at 8:30 a.m. Monday in Mahaska County District Court.

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