SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 9, 2013

Christensen takes stand, admits to stabbing

"I was scared," he tells jurors

(Continued)

“Did other bad things happen?” asked the lawyer.

“Not that I recall,” Christensen said.

Christensen was later removed from the home after allegations against Myers involving inappropriate conduct with teenagers surfaced.

Earlier yesterday, the defense called Dr. Alison Fife, a psychologist originally hired by the prosecution, to describe her conclusions about Christensen’s mental health, including her diagnoses of PTSD and another condition called reactive attachment disorder, which stems from abuse or neglect in early childhood.

She suggested that the conditions might have led Christensen to be quick to anger or overreact to a situation.

But under cross-examination by prosecutor Kristen Buxton, Fife also acknowledged that the disorders wouldn’t prevent Christensen from controlling those responses or knowing right from wrong.

After jurors were sent home for the day, Buxton, for the second time, raised the issue of Buso’s emotional reactions to testimony.

In a case where jurors, as in all cases, will be reminded by both the judge and the prosecutor not to let sympathy factor into their decision, Buxton argued that Buso’s tears were unprofessional and unfair.

“If a commonwealth prosecutor sobbed” during testimony, Buxton argued to Judge Howard Whitehead, “it would be a big issue.”

She went on to cite other cases where Buso has shown visible emotion, including the trial of a Chelsea man charged with beating a Peabody father to death outside a Lynn storage warehouse and a child-rape trial involving a man from Salem who was facing deportation to El Salvador if convicted.

Buso acknowledged that he was “choked up” by his client’s testimony and that his “eyes got watery,” then went on to suggest that he is frequently moved by the cases he tries.

Whitehead said he didn’t view Buso’s tears as “feigned” but told the lawyer that in the future he should ask for a break in the proceedings if he becomes emotional.

Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at jmanganis@salemnews.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.

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