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Psychologist Defends Office Shooter

April 16, 2002

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) _ A man who shot and killed seven co-workers at a software company was suffering from hallucinations and did not know right from wrong when he went on the rampage, a psychologist testified Tuesday.

Michael McDermott is schizophrenic and believed he was on a divine mission to kill Adolf Hitler and his henchman and prevent the Holocaust when he opened fire at Edgewater Technology in 2000, Ronald Ebert said.

``It is my opinion that, no, he is not malingering, that this is a genuine, serious and terrible mental illness,″ said Ebert, who testified for the defense.

He said he formed his opinion from 10 interviews he had with McDermott and on his review of almost 20 years of McDermott’s psychiatric records.

However, Ebert acknowledged during cross-examination that McDermott scored high in one category of a psychological test that measures whether someone is faking mental illness.

Prosecutors said the 43-year-old software engineer methodically gunned down his co-workers as revenge for the company’s plan to withhold some of his wages to cover back taxes. They said he concocted the story about talking to St. Michael the Archangel and killing Nazi leaders.

McDermott acknowledged last week he searched the Internet for articles on how to fake mental illness and said he bought a book on malingering. But he said he researched the subject because he wanted to make sure doctors prescribed him the antidepressants he preferred.

Also Tuesday, McDermott’s mother testified that her son was in great spirits at the family’s holiday gathering on Christmas, the day before the killings. Rosemary Martinez called her son at work Dec. 26 to wish him a happy Boxing Day. About 30 minutes later, McDermott began his shooting spree.

McDermott testified last week that St. Michael told him the mention of ``Boxing Day″ was one of the signals that he should carry out his mission.

Also Tuesday, state police Sgt. Deborah Rebeiro said that when she was taking McDermott’s fingerprints, he asked her repeatedly if she spoke English. When she said she did, he replied, ``Oh, thank God.″

McDermott testified that he believed he was being arrested by German police.

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