Prosecutors seeking to bar testimony of psychiatrist

WATSEKA — Iroquois County prosecutors are trying to keep a jury from hearing a psychiatrist's opinion that a Champaign man was having a manic episode when he allegedly detained and fondled a female employee in an adult bookstore near Buckley last year.

Assistant State's Attorney Alexander O'Brien filed a motion in Iroquois County Circuit Court on Nov. 19, seeking to bar testimony of Dr. Lawrence Jeckel at the trial of Paul T. Zindars.

Zindars, 35, has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of criminal sexual abuse and unlawful restraint and one count of misdemeanor battery in connection with a July 31, 2012, incident at the Lion's Den, located off Interstate 57 at the Buckley exit.

O'Brien, in his motion, says Zindars' attorney, Michael Sabol of Momence, lists Jeckel as a potential witness and has disclosed a written opinion from Jeckel concluding that Zindars "suffers from severe bipolar disorder with psychotic features and lacked substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct."

Zindars, however, has not entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, O'Brien said.

Instead, O'Brien claims, Sabol "intends to improperly argue that the defendant is simply not guilty because of his mental disease."

"If the defense is not presenting Dr. Jeckel's opinion for the purposes of the insanity defense, then testimony about the defendant's mental disease or defect and ability to appreciate the criminality of his conduct is irrelevant, (and) would only serve to confuse or mislead the jury in an attempt to garner sympathy," O'Brien wrote in his motion.

Judge Gordon Lustfeldt set a hearing for Jan. 14 to rule on the motion.

Authorities said Zindars was arrested by Paxton police following a high-speed chase on Interstate 57 — minutes after he entered the Lion's Den, then allegedly detained a female employee in a locked office, held her to the ground and fondled her.

At that time, Zindars was employed as project manager for Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County. The nonprofit organization's website no longer lists him as an employee.

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