Suspect's sanity called into question
She reportedly was overprescribed anti-depressantBy CRAIG McCOOL
Record-Eagle staff writer
CHARLEVOIX - A woman who allegedly bilked her employer out of nearly $700,000 is not legally culpable because she had taken too much anti-depression medication, psychiatric experts said.
The embezzlement trial of 35-year-old Karla Sue Lockman, of Boyne City, was to begin last week, but the case is on hold following a report that indicated Lockman was legally insane when she allegedly stole about $675,000 from Northern Preferred Title Co.
"There's a real issue regarding the use of Paxil during that time," said Fred Gibson, Lockman's Clinton Township defense attorney. "What we've determined is that during that time period the pharmacy had mistakenly overdosed her."
Lockman was evaluated last month by the Center for Forensic Psychiatry, the state agency that handles all court-ordered psychiatric evaluations. To meet the legal definition of insane, defendants must show they were unable to recognize their actions were wrong.
It's a tough standard to meet, and not many successfully mount an insanity defense. In his seven years with the Charlevoix office, county Prosecutor John Jarema has yet to prosecute a defendant who pleaded insanity.
"I can't recall (a report) ever coming back and saying they meet the legal definition of insanity," Jarema said. "I have the right to seek an independent evaluation. I'm going to try to get it scheduled by the end of this month."
Lockman is free on bond and faces two identical charges of embezzling $20,000 or more, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Her new trial date is June 5.
She worked for Northern Preferred less than two years, from September 2003 to May 2005. Her alleged thefts nearly sunk the company, said CEO John Taylor.
"Our operations have been severely curtailed," he said. "We lost both our underwriters. They discontinued our agency agreement."
When Lockman worked there she was one of about 16 employees in three offices in Boyne City, Charlevoix and East Jordan, Taylor said.
Now, it's just Taylor and one assistant in Charlevoix. Everyone else was laid off, the other offices shuttered.
"We're probably permanently crippled," Taylor said.
Lockman and her husband, Kevin, filed for bankruptcy in July 2004, declaring at the time a little more than $46,000 in property assets, federal court records show. Six months later, in January 2005, Lockman bought a $262,000 home in Boyne City. Police said she paid cash.
According to a police affidavit, Lockman diverted company checks written to people who recently closed on property sales and diverted them into her accounts.
Asked about the money, Lockman initially told investigators she received an inheritance from her living parents, a story she believed, her attorney said, because of the alleged Paxil overdoses.
"The pharmacy doubled her dosage for a period of several months," Gibson said. "By making those statements, she firmly believed that due to the condition she was in at the time."
Jarema said another doctor will have up to 60 days from the time of an evaluation to render a second opinion about Lockman's sanity at the prosecution's request.
"If my guy comes back and says she fine, then it's a battle of the experts," he said.