Counsel for the Wayland man charged with murdering has ex-girlfriend last summer said in a status conference Sept. 6 that the defendant’s mental state could come into play when the case goes to trial.
William Sullivan, defense attorney for Nathaniel Fujita, filed a Rule 14 motion notifying the prosecution that he could “rely on the defense of lack of criminal responsibility and/or diminished capacity” when Fujita goes to trial.
Fujita is accused of first-degree murder and other charges in the death of 18-year-old Lauren Astley, also of Wayland. The prosecution alleges that Fujita killed Astley, his ex-girlfriend, on July 3, 2011, and then dumped her body in a marsh near the Wayland-Sudbury border.
Sullivan said after the status hearing that his motion paves the way for a not guilty by reason of insanity defense or a reduced sentence due to diminished capacity, but that the motion does not necessarily mean either will occur. He declined to comment on what led to his motion, but said the motion does require the defense to retain expert witnesses, which could include mental health professionals.
, Sullivan cited a preponderance of evidence to examine when he requested and was granted a delay in the trial’s start date. The trial, originally scheduled to begin Oct. 29, 2012, was delayed until Jan. 22, 2013.
“We’ve been looking into all the factors – why, how …” Sullivan said after the hearing. He declined to comment on whether a particular aspect of the evidence led him to this motion.
Fujita was transported to for the Thursday hearing, but did not appear in the courtroom.
The next court date is scheduled for Oct. 1, when additional motions could be presented.
Editor's Note: The headline of this article has been corrected indicate the possibility of an "insanity defense," rather than plea.