, Salem, MA

Local News

October 8, 2013

Doctor says teen was depressed, suffered PTSD


“It was one more loss for him,” Nickman told the judge outside the jury’s presence. “He was quite confused about the nature of Mr. Myers’ interest in him, but it was better than nothing.”

There were a series of placements in foster homes, as well as bullying, the doctor said.

Prosecutor Kristen Buxton objected to Nickman being allowed to testify about Christensen’s background. Even if summarized, “It’s still hearsay-based,” argued the prosecutor.

The judge, citing the state of the law in Massachusetts, agreed, barring Buso from exploring that area.

Instead, the doctor testified about the symptoms he saw in Christensen, including an inability to trust.

Later, on cross-examination, the doctor conceded that by the time treatment ended in 2010, Christensen was no longer on medication.

Earlier in the day, Steven Arroyo, a friend of Vernazzaro, returned to the stand for cross-examination by Buxton.

When Buxton confronted him with a series of lies he’d told investigators early in the case, including his claim that he too had been attacked that night, he admitted that he didn’t want people to know he’d failed to respond to Vernazzaro’s cry for help that night.

And he was also concerned about being labeled as a “snitch,” even as he learned that his friend had died.

Things turned contentious during the cross-examination. Arroyo, originally on the state’s witness list, was angry about a request by prosecutors that he voluntarily agree to come back to court on the day he’d been slated to testify.

The prosecutors then decided not to call him at all. Buso then subpoenaed him to testify for the defense, hoping to elicit testimony that mirrored one of his earlier statements to police that he saw Vernazzaro charging at the teens. Instead, in testimony Friday, Arroyo backed away from that statement.

Arroyo, during his cross-examination, repeatedly complained about having to be back in court again, often using profanity and directing his comments toward the prosecutor, who tried to remind him that it was the defense who had called him back to court.

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

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