Ann Tracy, Ph.D., Executive Director of ICFDA, corresponded with Dr. Rada while he was imprisoned and Dr. Rada confirmed that he was taking Celexa {SSRI} at the time of the murder. 

Pediatrician guilty of killing wife

Jurors don't buy the defense claim that Dr. George Rada was insane when he shot his wife. He gets life in prison.

Published November 20, 2004

TAMPA - Despite the insistence of his defense attorney that Dr. George Rada was legally insane, the Plant City pediatrician was convicted of first-degree murder Friday for gunning down his wife.

Rada shot his 37-year-old wife, Judy, three times as she fled from him in the driveway of their home in the Walden Lake neighborhood in Plant City on June 16, 2003. Prosecutors portrayed Rada as a possessive man who could not stand the idea of his wife leaving him.

In his closing argument Friday, defense attorney John Fitzgibbons asked jurors to find Rada, 41, not guilty by reason of insanity. The attorney did not dispute that the "smart, brilliant doctor" shot his wife, but argued that the clumsy way he did it - in broad daylight - pointed to insanity.

He said a clever doctor might have killed her with a drug undetectable in an autopsy. "If he was going to premeditate it, he would do a much better job than this," Fitzgibbons said.

"On the one hand, what he did was horrible. On the other hand, he's sick. He's ill," said Fitzgibbons, characterizing his client as a victim of bipolar personality disorder. "It's not his fault that he's sick."

The defense attorney pointed to the testimony of a psychiatrist, Dr. Anthony Reading, who said that Rada's mental illness prevented him from understanding what he was doing when he shot his wife.

Prosecutors countered that Reading is not a forensically trained psychiatrist, whereas the state's psychiatrist, Dr. Barbara Stein, is. On Thursday, Stein testified that, like detectives, forensic psychiatrists are trained to see through lies. She also testified that Rada, while mentally ill, did understand the nature of his crime. "There is completely a non-psychotic motive for the shooting in this case," she said Thursday.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Jalal Harb said it was too convenient to say that Rada became insane during the few seconds it took to commit the murder, then snapped back to sanity.

Doctors "can commit first-degree murder," Harb said.

As Rada stood over his dying wife, the prosecutor said, he did not administer first aid. "That's indicative of someone who wants somebody else to die," he said.

The jury took just more than three hours to reach its verdict.

Judy Rada's mother told the judge that her life has changed since her daughter's murder. "As a person, I can forgive him, but I want him to spend the rest of his life in jail," Anna Soto said.

Hillsborough Circuit Judge Barbara Fleischer sentenced Rada to life in prison, the only punishment for a guilty verdict in a non-capital, first-degree murder trial.

"This guy had everything going for him," Harb said afterward. "A beautiful wife. A beautiful family. A beautiful home. He had a gun that worked, and he used it."

Christopher Goffard can be reached at 813 226-3337 or 
[Last modified November 20, 2004, 01:04:15]