Testimony focuses on depression claims

Prosecutors seek to discredit statements by physician, psychologist called by D’Avolio defense

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The D’Avolio family’s primary care physician was the last conventional witness in the murder trial of Jason P. D’Avolio Friday afternoon and she told the jury that Kerrilee D’Avolio had never shown any signs of severe depression.

Dr. Tatyana Misyulya was a witness for the defense. Jason D’Avolio, who is accused of shooting his wife, Kerrilee, in the back of the head, is expected to argue that Kerrilee was depressed enough to take her own life in July 2019.

“She never had severe depression,” said Dr. Misyulya, who had been treating Kerrilee since 2011. At most, Dr. Misyulya said Kerrilee suffered from “mild postpartum depression” after her daughters were born.

Jason D’Avolio, age 48, of Rome, is charged with one count each of second-degree murder and concealment of a human corpse. He is accused of shooting his estranged wife, Kerrilee, on July 28, 2019 and then throwing her body in a dumpster.

D’Avolio is expected to take the stand in his own defense Monday. He has argued that he found Kerrilee’s body after she shot herself, and that he cleaned up the bedroom in order to protect their children.

Dr. Misyulya testified that she started treating Kerrilee in 2011 and said, at the time, that Kerrilee was diagnosed with “mild depression with anxiety” due to being morbidly obese, having suffered around five miscarriages and because she was in an abusive relationship with her first husband.

Dr. Misyulya testified that Kerrilee admitted to some suicidal thoughts because of the abuse she was suffering at the time, which prompted the doctor to call in the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team to see if she needed additional treatment. The doctor testified that the Team spoke with Kerrilee for upwards of an hour and then “cleared” her for any signs of depression.

“They were unsure if she ever even had depression,” Dr. Misyulya told the jury.

Over the next eight or so years she served as Kerrilee’s doctor, Misyulya said she never again had to call the MCAT and there were never any signs of ongoing or severe depression. The doctor did say that Kerrilee was prescribed a “very mild dose” of an anti-depressant, which she took for less than a year before both Kerrilee and the doctor decided she didn’t need to take it anymore.

The Public Defender’s Office also called Dr. Scott Eaton to the stand on Friday, a forensic psychologist.

Eaton testified that he was hired by the Public Defender’s Office to review Kerrilee’s medical files to determine if it was possible she was suffering from depression at the time she was shot. Dr. Eaton testified that he read over her files, as well as some scientific articles, and
determined that Kerrilee showed a “number” of signs of adjustment disorder, which could “increase” the risk of suicide.

Under cross examination by the District Attorney’s Office, Eaton admitted that he had only received his Ph.D earlier this year and he had spent most of the past eight years in academics. He said he hadn’t seen a patient in the past eight years and had mostly worked in substance abuse counseling.

Also under cross examination, Dr. Eaton said he never spoke with anyone who knew Kerrilee, including her doctors, that he had only read reports. He admitted that at least one of the scientific articles he read did not apply to Kerrilee’s case, and he agreed with the District Attorney’s Office that Kerrilee did not show any of the nine signs of major depression.

One key factor in Dr. Eaton’s report was Kerrilee’s blood alcohol content, which Eaton said he was told by the Public Defender’s Office was 0.18% — more than twice the legal threshold for driving while intoxicated.

However, when forensic pathologist Dr. Carolyn Revercomb testified on Thursday about the autopsy, she noted that the “0.18” figure in her report had nothing to do with Kerrilee’s BAC. In fact, Revercomb noted that Kerrilee’s body was so decomposed that she did not have any blood left to test. Revercomb told the jury on Thursday that the “0.18” figure in her autopsy report was an entirely different measurement taken from the liver.

Dr. Eaton admitted on the stand that he did not know this discrepancy when he filed his report and only learned of the difference Thursday night, after Dr. Revercomb took the stand.

Dr. Eaton also told the jury that he had only been hired by the Public Defender’s Office on Oct. 22, after the trial had already begun. He testified that he was paid $200 per hour for about 12 hours of work, plus an additional $300 per hour for his testimony on Friday.

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