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March 2, 2013

Lawyer says Danvers man charged in father's slaying was hallucinating during interrogation

DANVERS — While being questioned by detectives in the hours after his father’s body was discovered, Stephen Anastasi told them he saw a turtle.

“I just want to check to see if I’m, like, still hallucinating,” Anastasi told the investigators from Danvers and state police on the afternoon of Nov. 12, 2011. “Is that a turtle underneath that thing right there? Did anyone else see a turtle?”

Earlier in the interrogation, Anastasi had said that after finding his father’s body in their kitchen, he had tried to commit suicide by ingesting heroin, Adderall, Seroquel, methadone, Tylenol PM and penicillin — the final drug because they were the only pills left in the house.

Anastasi, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 11, 2011, bludgeoning and stabbing death of his father, John, 60, the well-known owner of Farmer John’s Produce in Gloucester for many years.

Now Anastasi’s lawyer, John Morris, wants a judge to bar prosecutors from using his confession and other statements he made to police because, he argues, Anastasi was still hallucinating, under the influence of drugs, and therefore unable to knowingly and voluntarily waive his right to remain silent.

In a motion filed earlier this week, Morris argues that his client was in no condition to understand the consequences of speaking to police without an attorney.

Anastasi said in an affidavit that his vision was still so blurry from the effects of the drugs he had taken that he couldn’t read the waivers he signed.

Following his arrest, he eventually told police that he had struck his father with a hammer, and left him on the kitchen floor when he went out to purchase heroin with an acquaintance. When he returned later that afternoon, he realized his father was still alive, so, he told investigators, he stabbed him.

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