GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KREX) — It’s another cold day during the chilling trial involving murder, dismemberment, and mutilation. The defense called three doctors to testify on Monday for the People V Brian Cohee Jr including Dr. Paul Spragg.
This clinical psychologist with more than three decades of experience testifies up to six times a year and has conducted up to 300 forensic exams including Cohee’s.
Spragg explains he evaluated with a combination of historical data, Cohee’s interview, and subsequent data including the retrospective clinical assessment conducted in May 2022 by Dr. Laura Serrano-Amerigo, and her board-certified colleague. She diagnosed Cohee with antisocial personality disorder instead of major depressive disorder. Spragg says that’s wrong because there is no evidence of conduct disorder before 15 years old meaning no evidence of theft, property destruction, or repetitive rule-breaking behavior by Cohee.
Dr. Spragg diagnosed Cohee with autism, ADHD, and major depressive disorder. He explains that someone with that disorder has persistent thoughts of death ranging from two weeks to eight months.
the prosecution wants to prove Brian Jr was planning, preparing, and hiding but, Dr. Spragg says research is different than planning and Cohee was more likely indulging in fixated interests like violence, death, and morbidity to the max.
Spragg says no single diagnosis can account for the murder, but the combination of autism, ADHD, depressive disorder, racing, and intrusive thoughts from the lack of medication, and isolation from the pandemic contributing to Cohee’s fixation on violence set the stage for a psychotic episode leading to the murder. Spragg says a psychotic episode only needs one trigger, and that was Warren Barnes. Dr. Spragg says Brian Cohee Jr was not legally sane at the time of the murder.
But, during the prosecution’s cross-examination, Assistant District Attorney, Trish Mahre, points out Spragg is not a board-certified forensic psychologist, not appointed by the court, not qualified to conduct the sane evaluation, never provided his assessment notes to state doctors, did not record Cohee’s interview on video, and his opinion nor his practice is not peer-reviewed. Mahre also said Dr. Craig Gustafson, the Cohee’s family medical doctor, never reported Cohee’s suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, or delusions to Dr. Spragg. Spragg evaluated Cohee in October 2021 and his final opinion was submitted 13 months later. Mahre said Spragg was appointed by the defense team and was paid $20,000 for his services.