Paragraphs 20 & 21 read:  "Defense lawyers have obtained medical documents showing that Crespi had been taking Paxil for his depression, Trazodone for anxiety and Ambien to help him sleep."

"But he gained more than 50 pounds while on Paxil and no longer wanted to take the antidepressant. In January, Crespi began taking Prozac."

Crespi to plead guilty to murder 10:25 AM

Father expected to serve life in prison for killing twin daughters

10:25 AM EDT on Sunday, July 16, 2006
By GARY L. WRIGHT / The Charlotte Observer

David Crespi, who confessed to killing his 5-year-old twins in January, has agreed to plead guilty to murder and spend the rest of his life in prison, the Observer has learned.

The 45-year-old bank executive is expected to plead guilty, perhaps later this month, to two counts of first-degree murder in the stabbing deaths of daughters Samantha and Tessara.

Crespi, who told police he was struggling with depression when he killed the twins, would then avoid a capital murder trial and possible death sentence. He'd be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Mecklenburg District Attorney Peter Gilchrist refused to talk about any deal with Crespi. "It's improper for me to discuss any possibility of how this case will be resolved," he said.

But Crespi's attorneys say prosecutors have told them they will not seek the death penalty if the father of five pleads guilty.

In his confession, Crespi told homicide detectives that his battles with depression had triggered thoughts of killing his children, wife and parents, and even running down strangers with his car.

He also had worried about losing his job as a senior vice president in Wachovia's audit division. He thought he was in financial trouble and that he had failed to adequately care for his family. Killing the twins, he believed, would somehow end those worries.

Crespi also told the detectives he knew what he had done was wrong.

Kim Crespi doesn't want her husband put on trial for his life.

"I do not believe that taking David's life could in any way make right what went so tragically wrong on Jan. 20," Kim Crespi said in a prepared statement. "Seeking the death penalty for David would be yet another layer of injury upon our already deeply hurt family."

Her family is thankful, she said, that her husband didn't take his own life.

"His life will be of value wherever he is on earth, including in prison," she wrote. "When there is life there is hope for healing."

Prosecutors might have had a hard time convincing 12 jurors that Crespi should die. Weighing against a death sentence, defense lawyers believe, would be Crespi's history of mental illness, absence of previous violent behavior and Kim Crespi's opposition to her husband being tried for his life.

Still, a death-penalty trial was a risk defense lawyers felt Crespi couldn't take.

Defense attorneys Jim Cooney and Jean Lawson say Crespi was overwhelmed by his mental illness on the day he stabbed his daughters to death.

"David committed these acts while in the midst of a psychotic episode," Cooney told the Observer. "He will pay for them with the rest of his life."

Cooney and Lawson said that during Crespi's battle against mental illness over the past 20 years, he and his wife did all they could to seek help.

But the medication he was given, they said, was insufficient.

"They followed every treatment plan given to them, and David took every medication prescribed to him," Lawson said. "Unfortunately ... only after the deaths of Samantha and Tessara was David diagnosed with psychotic depression and features of bipolar mental illness.

"In light of these diagnoses, his prior treatment and medication were completely inadequate to control his mental illness."

Defense lawyers have obtained medical documents showing that Crespi had been taking Paxil for his depression, Trazodone for anxiety and Ambien to help him sleep.

But he gained more than 50 pounds while on Paxil and no longer wanted to take the antidepressant. In January, Crespi began taking Prozac.

He still couldn't sleep. The day before the killings, medical records show, he was taken off Ambien and Trazodone and put on Lunesta, a sleep aid.

Defense lawyers believe Crespi's statement to detectives shows he was delusional and irrational in the days leading up to the twins' killings.

Crespi, the defense attorneys said, was not in financial trouble and wasn't in jeopardy of losing his job. He was earning six figures at Wachovia.

Crespi also told detectives on the day of the killings that he worried he wouldn't get a bonus in February from the bank. He said he received a $45,000 bonus last year.

Just weeks after the twins' killings, the family learned that Wachovia had already approved his biggest bonus ever.

During the plea hearing, defense lawyers are expected to put on evidence that a psychiatrist has concluded Crespi is competent to enter the guilty pleas.

The judge will question Crespi about his decision to plead guilty, his rights to a jury trial and whether he is in fact guilty. The judge also will ask Crespi if he understands what he is doing and the consequences of his guilty pleas.

Kim Crespi, meanwhile, has been visiting her husband almost every week at Raleigh's Central Prison, where he is being held in a mental hospital unit. The Crespis' 18-year-old daughter, Jessica, graduated from high school last month.

Kim Crespi said she hopes one day to understand her husband's illness and how similar tragedies can be avoided.

"David is a sweet, caring, life-affirming, nonviolent man who deeply loves and cares for his family," she said.

"How he could do such horrific and uncharacteristic acts is beyond reason for those who knew him."