Last updated: September 04. 2013 10:12AM - 2137 Views
SHEENA DELAZIO sdelazio@timesleader.com



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WILKES-BARRE – Megan Panowicz’s mental infirmity defense in the case of a hit-and-run that killed a woman in 2008 is several years too late, a prosecutor contended in legal papers.


The filing of court papers notifying a senior judge that defense attorneys seek to admit evidence that Panowicz, 28, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder is also an attempt to delay of her Sept. 23 trial, Deputy Attorney General Clarke Madden said in court papers filed Tuesday.


Panowicz, of Forty Forty, is charged in the August 2008 death of Sharon Shaughnessy, who was killed on Wyoming Avenue in Kingston when she was reportedly struck by three vehicles.


Panowicz has a “longstanding disorder” that causes her to avoid stressful situations by “attempting to over self control,” her attorneys said in a filing last month.


Her attorneys, her father, Robert Panowicz, and Basil Russin, said they intend to call two doctors as well as Panowicz and her mother, Cheryl Panowicz, to prove the infirmity defense.


“The events which caused her to have post traumatic stress rendered her incapable of appreciating the significance or consequences of her behavior and affected her ability to determine what was right or wrong at that crucial moment,” the attorneys wrote.


Madden said in his filing that under state rules governing criminal procedures, Panowicz’s attorneys had a certain time frame after her arraignment in March 2009 to file the mental infirmity defense, but did not.


“The … notice (of the mental infirmity defense) is not weeks, months or seasons overdue; it is literally years past the deadline,” Madden wrote.


Madden wrote Panowicz has not attempted to “account for this hugely prejudicial delay” and has only done so by “gamesmanship.”


Madden asks that Panowicz be precluded from presenting the defense to a jury at her Sept. 23 trial.


Senior Judge Charles Brown has not yet scheduled a hearing on the matter, and will ultimately make a ruling.

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