Magazine article The American Enterprise

Murderer's Payday

Magazine article The American Enterprise

Murderer's Payday

Article excerpt

Wendell Williamson's pathway to courtroom riches opened up when he went on a shooting spree in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with an M-1 rifle, killing two people--Ralph Walker, 42, a restaurant worker, and Kevin Reichardt, 20, a student and lacrosse player at the University of North Carolina. Williamson, 30, a former law student, blamed medical malpractice by Dr. Myron Liptzin, his psychiatrist, for the bloody rampage. A jury agreed and ordered Dr. Liptzin to pay Williamson $500,000.

The consequences? For the relatives of the murder victims, another dose of disbelief and anger. Walker's sister, sobbing after the half-million-dollar verdict, said, "He's doing it. He got by with it, and now he's getting paid for it." Seeing the jury's award as incomprehensible, Dr. Karl Reichardt, Kevin's father, called Williamson a "murderer who is now literally rewarded for what he did."

It was the second straight courtroom win for Williamson. The jury in his capital murder trial found him not guilty by reason of insanity. Williamson, now residing at the Broughton State Hospital in Morgantown, is free to go as soon as it's decided he's no longer a danger to himself or the rest of us. In a few years, given the right mix of pills and stockbrokers, he just might be leaving the hospital as a full-blown millionaire.

The second consequence? For America's top psychiatrists with the deepest pockets, the $500,000 verdict sends a clear warning: To cover your assets, it's best to stay away from those who need the most help. …

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