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Fri, Nov. 22

Psychiatrist: Meth, not alternate personality, to blame for murder
Loader allegedly cut up, burned body

George Loader

George Loader

KINGMAN - A psychiatrist called by the state to evaluate first-degree murder suspect George Loader said Friday that Loader might have antisocial personality disorder, but not paranoid schizophrenia or dissociative identity disorder as claimed in his defense.

Loader, 37, is charged with murdering acquaintance John Oppenheim, 51, with a shotgun in November 2011 then dismembering and burning Oppenheim.

Loader said a negative, alternate personality named "Jorge" was in control at the time he allegedly quartered and burned Oppenheim, who according to Loader accidentally shot himself in the neck with a shotgun while reaching for the weapon during a physical altercation with Loader.

Loader also said he has a fun-loving personality named "Sebastian."

Dr. Earnest Harman, a psychiatrist and former associate director of Mohave Mental Health, testified that he based his conclusion off past psychiatric history, a roughly one hour interview with Loader and interviews with detention officers in contact with Loader.

"Mr. Loader was saying he was having disassociation at the time of the alleged offense ... and that this was stress-related, and alternate personalities would come out," said Harman. "I wanted to talk to people that have been around Mr. Loader in stress situations."

Detention officers in contact with Loader did not report Loader behaving abnormally compared to other inmates, according to Harman. Nor was there or any mention of alternate personalities or names.

However, Harman did agree when questioned by Loader's attorney, Christian Ackerley, that one officer noted Loader "appears to be daydreaming when talking to him."

Harman's testimony contradicts the opinion of a Mohave Mental Health doctor who reviewed Loader prior to Oppenheim's death, and who said Loader is a paranoid schizophrenic with possibly a non-specified disassociation disorder.

Harman stated he has concerns with that doctor's evaluation because, although Loader mentioned he had been using methamphetamine since age 14, the previous doctor did not take this into account when assigning a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

Harman went on to say the symptoms of methamphetamine-induced psychosis and schizophrenia often resemble one another, such as the auditory hallucinations reported by Loader. Both concern an overabundance or misregulation of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Harman said he does not believe Loader has dissociative identity disorder mostly because Loader appears to him, in speech and in writing, to be aware of what his supposed personalities are doing, when memory loss is more common upon personality shift.

Harman also said he was concerned Loader might be "malingering," or feigning symptoms of dissociative identity disorder to minimize criminal charges.

"I would highly suspect it," said Harman. "Most people with dissociative identity disorder never come to light, because they're ashamed."

Ackerley, Loader's defense attorney, raised several issues with Harman's testimony, notably the approximate one-hour, unstructured interview with Loader, and Harman's relying on statements from detention officers who are not mental health professionals.

Ackerley also questioned Harman's impartiality in the matter. Asked how many times Harman has conducted previous evaluations at the request of the state prosecutor, Harman said between 10-15.

Harman also said, upon questioning by Ackerley, that he has never done the same for a defense attorney representing an inmate facing charges by the state.

Harman said he does not think his role in examining Loader is compromised because he was called on by the state to do so, and said he considers himself a "third party."

Ackerley also took issue with the lack of physician notes available in Loader's past medical records, and that Harman based his testimony not on raw data, but the reviews and conclusions of other health professionals, among other things.

"(Loader) did tell me Jorge had taken over," Harman said regarding his interview with Loader, adding that he did not interview any of Loader's family members.

Harman said Loader's previous doctor was the first to suggest Loader might have antisocial personality disorder.

Prior to Oppenheim's death, Loader was prescribed antipsychotic and anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication, as well as a low-dose medication to ameliorate the side effects of the antipsychotic drug.

Loader said Friday the medication helps quiet the voices he hears.

Loader said he confronted Oppenheim in November 2011 because he believed Oppenheim molested a family member. However, no evidence exists that Oppenheim did or did not commit the acts Loader confronted him about.

Loader said Friday he likely put the expended shotgun shell that police found in Oppenheim's flannel jacket the day of his death, but does not remember doing it.

The trial will continue at the Mohave County Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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