Rabbi Victor Koltun's
GOSHEN – The Brooklyn rabbi charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of two men in Newburgh has been found unable to assist in his own defense.
Two of three psychologists who examined Victor Koltun, 42, found that he is incapacitated. The deciding opinion, received Wednesday in Orange County Court, determined that while Koltun has a factual understanding of the legal proceedings, uncontrolled manic symptoms have left him without the rational capacity to aid in his own defense.
Prosecutors say Koltun was the mastermind in a murder-for-hire plot that ended with the Nov. 4, 2010 shooting deaths of former Lloyd cop Francis Piscopo, 49, and his 28-year-old nephew, Gerald Piscopo. Two other men pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and are serving prison sentences.
Koltun, who has a lengthy list of physical ailments and a seizure disorder, was initially examined earlier in the case by two psychologists, both of whom found him competent. But in the fall, Koltun raised new issues about his ability to understand the legal proceedings, claiming his ADHD, an old head injury and bipolar disorder were interfering. New psychological evaluations were ordered. The first two reports came back split; one psychologist saying he was fit to proceed, the other saying he wasn’t.
Neither Senior Assistant District Attorney David Byrne nor Koltun’s lawyer, Paul Brite, opposed the findings on Wednesday of incapacity. Byrne asked Judge Jeffrey Berry to have the psychologists to provide a diagnosis and a prognosis, as required by the section of Criminal Procedure Law that governs competency proceedings.
Brite said his client will likely be transferred to a psychiatric facility for treatment, for at least 30 days.
The case will be back in Orange County Court on Jan. 13.