Attorneys expect to make their final arguments Monday in the case of the Kennewick woman accused of killing a pregnant Pasco mother and cutting out her baby.
Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong, 25, then will wait to see if a Benton County Superior Court jury believes she was not mentally aware of what was happening when she stabbed Araceli Camacho Gomez 47 times in the back seat of her car in June 2008.
Defense attorneys rested their case Friday after their expert witness, a Richland psychologist who said Sisouvanh Synhavong was insane and unable to understand right from wrong, spent nearly 2 1/2 days on the stand.
Prosecutor Andy Miller then called a clinical psychologist from Eastern State Hospital as a rebuttal witness. Randall Strandquist testified that he reached a different conclusion after reviewing Philip Barnard's reports and evaluations and conducting four different tests last month on Sisouvanh Synhavong in the Benton County jail.
Strandquist said he believed Sisouvanh Synhavong was malingering -- pretending to have a mental illness -- does not suffer from a mental disease or mental defect and "clearly knew what happened was wrong."
Defense attorney Michael Iaria questioned Strandquist about whether a child who was severely beaten and grew up in a refugee camp that's equivalent to a prison camp could have dissociative disorder later in life.
"You don't have to be a psychologist ... to understand if you beat that child down like a dog, there's going to be an impact later in life?" Iaria asked.
Strandquist said yes and also agreed family history was important to consider when making the diagnosis of whether she has a mental disease, but conceded that he didn't have information about Sisouvanh Synhavong's first 15 years of her life during his first diagnosis that she was malingering.
Strandquist will return to the stand Monday morning for further questioning, followed by closing arguments.
Sisouvanh Synhavong is charged with aggravated first-degree murder and has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
Defense attorneys say she lives in a fantasy world caused by years of physical and verbal abuse as a child that left her unable to know the difference between right and wrong.
Prosecutors say Sisouvanh Synhavong had lied to her family about being pregnant and claimed she was 10 days overdue. She reportedly targeted Camacho Gomez, who was eight months pregnant, offered her baby clothes as a ruse to get her alone.
If convicted, Sisouvanh Synhavong will be sentenced to life in prison because Miller already decided not to seek the death penalty in the case.
If acquitted by reason of insanity, she would be turned over to the state Department of Social and Health Services to determine how long she would be committed to a state mental hospital.
The defense has proposed that the jury be allowed to consider second-degree murder as a lesser alternative.
Before testimony began Friday, Judge Robert Swisher individually questioned the 14 jurors on the panel about a possible misconduct incident brought up by the defense.
Barnard, the defense's psychologist, said that twice while he was testifying he saw two different jurors give a "thumbs down" gesture. He said it occurred once Wednesday while he was being questioned by defense attorney Dan Arnold, and once Thursday during Miller's cross examination of him.
Attorneys on both sides, Swisher, the court clerk and bailiff said they didn't see any gestures by jurors during testimony, but the bailiff said jurors have gestured to him to signal that they could overhear a conversation between the judge and the attorneys that they knew they weren't supposed to be hearing.
When questioned individually, each juror said no gestures were made during the testimony, but three jurors did say they used the gestures to signal the bailiff during the judge's "sidebar" discussions with the lawyers.
Swisher was satisfied with the questioning that there was no juror misconduct and he told the bailiff to have jurors raise their hand in the future if there's a similar problem.
Iaria also renewed his request for a mistrial in the case, alleging Miller's tone and actions Thursday impugned the integrity of Barnard and Arnold. Miller said his voice may have been loud during his cross examination of Barnard, but he didn't shout and there were no objections made by defense attorneys at that moment.
Swisher denied Iaria's first motion for a mistrial Thursday, saying Miller may have been frustrated during the exchange but that he didn't hear Miller raise his voice toward Barnard.
On Friday, Swisher said "it was loud and it was aggressive -- and inappropriate, frankly," but didn't rise to the level where it warrants a mistrial.