Michael Welner is a controversial New York-based forensic psychiatrist who often testifies as an expert witness for the prosecution in cases. Houston Chronicle columnist Rick Casey reports today that Welner was paid more $240,000. for his services in the retrial of Andrea Yates. She was found not guilty by reason of insanity in spite of - or possible because of - Welner's testimony that she had not been insane at the time she killed her children. LINK
Remember when it turned out that prosecutors had paid $105,000 to their lead psychiatric expert in the first Andrea Yates trial, despite the fact that his false testimony led an appeals court to overturn the jury's guilty verdict?
County records show the numbers — and results — in July's second trial are even worse.
Dr. Michael Welner and his consulting firm, the Forensic Panel, were paid a jaw-dropping $242,966.74 for work on the second Yates trial.
At least Dietz's testimony worked with the jurors in the first trial but was overturned by an appeals court because of the mistake.
Welner's testimony seems to have backfired with the second jury, which found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity.
"Although Dr. Welner's qualifications were impressive, his presentation in court was not good," said juror Bobby Chism. "He came across as very aloof and self-serving."
Chism said Welner's testimony was based on an interview with Yates five years after she killed her children.
"Earlier expert testimony confirmed the defense's contention that after a person has been treated for psychosis they have a problem remembering what happened during their psychosis, and it gets harder over time to remember the details," Chism said.
He and juror Michael Olson also brought up Welner's self-described "peer review" system. His Web site describes his firm as pioneering a "peer review" process that makes it "America's foremost forensic consulting institution."
But defense attorney Wendell Odom brought out during the trial that Welner's idea of "peer review" differs considerably from that of academic journals.
When a scientist submits a paper to a first-rate journal, the editors send the paper to experts in the same field to critique. The author has no say in the selection of the reviewers. The result is that many papers don't get published.
But, as Odom brought out, Welner himself hires his "peer reviewers."
Simply put, employees and employers are not "peers."
This arrangement, said juror Olson, "really compromised his integrity."
"Most of us really felt that he did more harm than good to the prosecution's case," Olson said, adding, "Several of us concluded that his analysis of 'the ultimate opinion' was built backwards: He started with the answer and then built his conclusion going back."