Peter Spitz protests giving more freedom to his ex-wife -- who blinded him and killed his mother
In 2004, Peter Spitz was shot in the face several times by his wife, Teresa -- who then killed his mother. Blinded in the assault, Spitz defended Teresa when her case went to trial, and she was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity and sent to the Colorado Mental Health Institute. But today, Spitz no longer defends his now ex-wife, who now goes by the name Teresa Lynn. And he strongly opposes a motion filed with the court asking for more privileges.
Alan Prendergast covered the strange case of Peter and Teresa Spitz in a December 2010 cover story. And on Monday, March 28, a hearing in Arapahoe District Court opened another chapter in this story.
After several delays, Elissa Ball, the forensic psychiatrist charged with supervising outpatient releases, was called to the stand by public defender Jim O'Connor. She testified that Lynn is ready for unsupervised, off-ground time and then a move into community placement, so that she can go to the library for her community college courses, get a job, and even spend nights with the son she had with Spitz. She also stood behind Lynn's desire to have the boy adopted by his present foster parents.
Ball said that she believes Lynn is low-risk to offend again -- despite some troublesome relationships and rule-breaking at the Institute. As for the original verdict, Ball said that she didn't believe Lynn should have been ruled not guilty by reason of insanity: She knew what she was doing.
And that concerned District Attorney John Franks. In his closing remarks, he labeled Lynn "a risk to society and the public," pointed to a lack of psychiatric unanimity on risk analysis, and compared letting her out into the world to a "lab experiment."
O'Connor responded by calling out Franks for not producing any witnesses against Lynn.
And then one appeared: In a startling and irregular statement, Peter Spitz himself addressed the court. Giving an emotional, at times heated, speech, Spitz warned that if Lynn commits more violent crimes, the doctors will "risk eggs on their face." Then he quipped, "I risk getting brains on my face."
His guide dog, Jersey, whining at his side, Spitz condemned Lynn for working to prevent him from visiting his son, whom he has only seen in the last year. When he began to address Lynn directly, Judge Michael Spear admonished him to direct his comments to the court. And so he did. Labeling giving Lynn more freedom "insane," Spitz said, "I resent how everyone has tried to minimize what has happened."
The judge said he would issue a written ruling in the coming days.
More from our News archive: "Video: Peter Spitz tells how his wife shot him in the face while he was asleep."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.