Prosecutor: Wang Letter Points To Murder Motive
by marcia chambers | Jun 29, 2012 8:54 am
Posted to: Legal Writes
In New Haven’s state Superior Court Wednesday, talk turned to a letter—a letter that has emerged as a key point in an unusual murder case.
Dr. Lishan Wang, who is accused of killing Dr. Vandjeer Toor in Branford in 2010, brought up the letter. He is serving as his own lawyer in his murder case.
In court Wednesday, he voiced concern about the letter, which he wrote to a Brooklyn federal judge in the aftermath of his firing from Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in 2008.
The letter, the chief prosecutor in the case has said, outlines a motive for murder.
Dr. Wang, 47, discussed the letter during a two-hour hearing in Judge Roland D. Fasano’s courtroom. It was first mentioned briefly at a probable cause hearing last year when Senior State’s Attorney Eugene R. Calistro, Jr., told the court the letter showed the motive for the Toor murder. Judge Fasano ruled that the prosecutor had established by a preponderance of the evidence that Dr. Wang committed the Toor murder. Dr. Wang sought the hearing over the objections of his attorneys.
In the letter, Dr. Wang claims that “Dr. Vajinder Toor had fabricated many details about what has happened on May 15, 2008, in order to justify the defendant’s ( the hospital) false accusation against me.” That incident along with others led to Dr. Wang’s firing and to the end to his medical career.
The letter is dated April 20, 2010, six days before Dr. Wang is charged with gunning down Dr.Toor outside his Branford condo as he left for work at Yale Medical School. The Eagle obtained a copy of the four-page letter from the court record.
Police found the letter in Dr. Toor’s van, which he drove from Georgia to the Branford condo where Dr. Toor lived with his wife and three-year-old son.
Dr. Wang sent his letter to Chief Magistrate Judge Steven M. Gold in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, where Dr. Wang’s civil case against the hospital was filed. It listed an address in Houston, Texas even though Dr. Wang was believed to be living in Marietta , Ga., with his wife and three children.
Dr. Wang also had a photograph of Dr. Toor and Google directions to his house when he was arrested, according to prior testimony. Police obtained a search warrant to inspect the van. Dr. Wang also had the addresses and photos of other doctors and administrators at Kingsbrook in the van when Officer Joseph Peterson stopped the van and later arrested him.
In the letter to Magistrate Gold, Wang blames the hospital and several doctors “for the terrible things that happened to me.” He accuses Dr. Toor of falsely accusing Wang “of threatening his safety.” He also accuses the medical center of trying to make him claim mental illness “before a proper diagnosis.” He accuses Dr. Toor, whom he addresses by his first name, of “trying to do unnecessary tests on me, when I was ill with fever…” Overall, he claims that medical center personnel used “false accusations and fabricated documents (that) ended my career as a physician on May 22, 2008.”
In Superior Court Wednesday, Dr. Wang, wearing a bright orange prison jump suit and looking thin, told Judge Fasano (pictured) that he was concerned that the state had introduced the letter in court. He also reminded the judge that Calistro said the letter “goes to motive.” He went on to say that while he sent the letter to the federal magistrate, he does not have a copy of the original.
“I have a revised copy. We don’t know what the state may bring out at trial,” he said.
The context for the letter’s discussion came after Dr. Wang submitted a set of four motions to the judge seeking a broad array of subpoenas, virtually all involving documents and testimony related to his time at Kingsbrook. Dr. Wang is acting as his own attorney. It appears from his actions over the last three court sessions that he uses the services of his stand-by attorney Jeff LaPierre only on occasion.
Attorney Wang Runs Into Trouble
Judge Fasano opened the court session by saying the motions were repetitive, as he said at the April court session and the May court session. Once again, the judge stated gently but firmly that there would be far fewer bottlenecks if Dr. Wang would agree to allow his court-appointed stand-by public defender, Jeffrey LaPierre, to represent him. The judge returned to this theme several times, explaining that Dr. Wang could overcome serious hurdles if he had a lawyer working for him.
Judge Fasano explained that Dr. Wang’s newest motions were too broad and that LaPierre ought to frame a subpoena for the documents and persons Dr. Wang wants to call at trial, specifically the mental and physical health records Kingsbrook might have on Dr.Wang. Every time an impediment in the legal process has occurred—and they have happened regularly over the past three months—the judge suggests Dr. Wang retain LaPierre as his counsel. Click here to read about this issue.
But Dr.Wang, now Attorney Wang, would not go there.
At one point he thanked the judge for his concern.
“I appreciate that you are worried about my situation,” Dr.Wang told the judge. “As I have articulated before, I have some serious and fundamental differences [with the public defender’s office] about how to defend the current case. I know it is hard.”
The judge noted that setting a trial date is dependent upon overcoming numerous hurdles, including one of Dr. Wang’s recent slip-ups in which he failed to have sealed a motion meant only for the judge. In court, Calistro, the prosecutor, said Wang had provided him with the motion, a motion that in the ordinary course of events he would not be entitled to see.
The Role of the Public Defender
Dr. Wang conceded to the judge that he had not run that motion past LaPierre. “I did not do it the right way,” he added. The judge said he was concerned about these developments. Every time Dr. Wang makes these errors he provides the prosecution with incriminating material that helps the state’s case.
Both sides agree that in order to get the case moving, Dr. Wang will have to be examined by an expert psychiatric witness who will be chosen by Dr. Wang, not his stand-by counsel.
Who will pay for this witness?
This issue came into play at Wednesday’s hearing when Judge Fasano asked La Pierre if the public defender’s office would consider paying for this witness because because Dr. Wang is an indigent defendant. The judge said he had consulted several other judges about this developing problem.
LaPierre explained that the public defender’s office will not pay for the expert since the office only represents Wang on a stand-by basis. As such Dr. Wang is not entitled all the benefits the public defender’s offices provide.
“I am an employee,” La Pierre told the judge, explaining he is not in charge of the decision making.
“So am I,” said the judge, adding the judicial budget does not include this service.
Calistro did not have to speak. His expression was clear. This was not his problem.
The judge looked at LaPierre, saying he hoped there could be a meeting of the minds on this issue since an expert psychiatric witness is essential to the case moving forward.
Judge Fasano asked LaPierre to help Dr. Wang draft a properly worded subpoena for all mental and physical records that Kingsbrook might have for Dr. Wang. Once the records are obtained, then Dr.Wang can decide how best to frame his defense.
So far he has refused to reveal his defense. He said in court he had to be careful not to.
Prosecutor Serves Motions On Attorney Wang
But Calistro, the state’s attorney in the case, let the court know that he is unwilling to wait until trial to find out what defense awaits the state.
He sought to move things along.
“Yes, he has to provide the state with notice,” Calistro told the Eagle after the court session ended. “He just can’t ambush the state and all of sudden at the trial, come up with an insanity defense. Under the practice book [the rules governing lawyers in Connecticut courts] you have to provide notice ahead of time.”
To that end Calistro served two motions on Dr. Wang.
The first motion asks if Wang is planning to use the defense of extreme emotional disturbance (EED) or a similar statute as his defense at trial. The second motion states that if Wang is using EED or the equivalent as his defense, then the state needs to know if he is relying on an expert, if so who and will there be a report. If so, the state asked for it.
“I am now filing with him. I addressed the motions to him,” Calistro said.
The long court session Wednesday dealt mainly with Dr. Wang’s collapsed residency at Kingsbrook. Dr. Toor and Dr. Wang first met when Dr. Toor, 33 at the time of the murder, served as chief resident and Dr. Wang, now 47, served as a resident at Kingsbrook. Dr. Toor was Dr. Wang’s boss.
A discussion of the events that took place on May 15, 2008, weaved in and out of Wednesday’s court proceedings. A confrontation between the two men took place at the hospital on that date. They had a heated argument over Dr. Wang’s failure to respond to calls while on hospital duty.
At one point when Dr. Wang and the judge were discussing the parameters of a subpoena and its relationship to other evidence, Judge Fasano asked Calistro if he had any additional information to turn over to the defense.
Calistro said that he had, in fact, asked the medical center for a video of an encounter between Dr. Toor and Dr. Wang that occurred that day and that he believed might have been captured on tape. He told the court he had not yet received it.
Dr. Wang seemed absorbed in the events of his life at Kingsbrook, and seemed almost indifferent to the murder charges facing him now. Again and again he returned to the events at Kingsbrook, telling the judge that many accusations against him were false. He hinted he would try to call witnesses from Kingsbrook who had a more positive view of him.
Judge Fasano kept trying to bring Dr. Wang back to the reality of the charges against him. At one point Judge Fasano reminded Dr. Wang that the subpoenas had to relate to the charges he faced.
And as if to remind him, Judge Fasano read the charges aloud: “Murder, attempted murder, possession of weapons.” Dr. Wang is also accused of shooting at Dr. Toor’s wife, then pregnant with their second child. His bullets missed her.
“The subpoenas have to be relevant to those charges,” Judge Fasano instructed him. But he seemed not to hear.
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