Man in Slain Teacher Trial Faking Mental Disorder: Psychiatrist

Friday, Nov 26, 2010  |  Updated 1:54 PM EDT
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Man in Slain Teacher Trial Faking Mental Disorder: Psychiatrist

Rockland County PD

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A judge has set a hearing to decide whether a man is mentally fit to stand trial in the slaying of a grade-school gym teacher who lived next door to him in a New York City suburb after conflicting claims of trial psychiatrists.

The Journal News reported Friday that a Dec. 2 hearing is scheduled in Eric Lau's murder case.

Two psychiatrists concluded the 32-year-old isn't competent for trial. But prosecutors say a third psychiatrist found Lau was faking mental problems to avoid dealing with the charges. Lau pleaded not guilty to stabbing killing Jami Erlich in her Valley Cottage apartment in November 2009.

To be fit for trial, a person has to be able to understand court proceedings and help his or her defense. A person found unfit is held in a mental hospital until his or her condition improves enough for trial.

The school-teacher was killed in her apartment on November 29 while talking on the phone to her boyfriend, Authorities said. When the call ended suddenly and Erlich wouldn't pick up again, her boyfriend dialed 911.

In an apartment raid last December, Police found some of Erlich's belongings, including her underwear.

Lau is being charged for both murder and burglary. He also faces a felony assault charge after being accused of attacking a county jail officer, the Journal News reported.

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