After coming back to South Dakota following the 2011 murder of Maybelle Schein, 43-year-old admitted killer James McVay tried to kill himself by overdosing on an anti-psychotic drug.
That was testimony from a South Dakota Department of Corrections psychiatrist on the third day of McVay's death penalty trial.
Defense attorneys for McVay started presenting their case Tuesday as they fight to spare the killer from the death penalty.
Two doctors called to the stand testified about their interactions with McVay before and after the murder of Schein.
Dr. Eric Kutscher, who worked for Avera Behavioral Health up until last year, met with McVay twice and said that McVay told him that he was born to a heroin addict, grew up in a meth house in Texas, and started using meth and heroin as young as ten years old.
But the drug McVay said was better than heroin or any other drug was dextromethorphan, which is found in cold and cough medicine. McVay took an entire box the afternoon before Schein's murder, but Kutscher couldn't say for certain if McVay would have still been feeling the effects of the drug during the murder.
"You're not saying a person who takes these substances shouldn't be held responsible for his actions," Minnehaha County State's Attorney Aaron McGowan asked Kutscher in cross examination.
"No, I am not," Kutscher replied.
Dr. Christopher Davidson, a psychiatrist who works at the South Dakota State Penitentiary also testified. Davidson said he diagnosed McVay with substance-induced psychosis and met with McVay in prison regularly. He said after Schein's murder in September of 2011 McVay's thinking began to shift and he thought that he had to die for his crime so he tried to overdose on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. Davidson said McVay likely ‘cheeked’ the medication, which means he faked out the nurses by pretending to take it and then stockpiled the prescription in his cell.
Davidson added he would be worried if McVay started using substances again.
Judge Peter Lieberman told jurors Tuesday that they will likely begin deliberations Wednesday and he advised them to pack an overnight bag in case they have to spend the night.
Jurors will decide if McVay is eligible for the death penalty and if they think, he is they will come back to hear more testimony before deciding his final punishment.