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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Use of controversial 'brain mapping' technology stymied

By David Ovalle





QEEG technology, which can highlight brain damage, helps spare killers from the death penalty. But is it just another form of 'junk science'?


JewishWorldReview.com |

M IAMI— (MCT) Two years ago, a controversial "brain-mapping" technology — allowed into evidence by one Miami-Dade judge — helped spare convicted murderer Grady Nelson from the death penalty.

But the prospect of widespread use of the technology in criminal court has dimmed as, one by one, Florida judges have refused to allow use of the "QEEG," which some defense lawyers say explains a propensity for violence by illustrating brain trauma.

The latest South Florida case: a judge declined to allow defense lawyers to present the technology to jurors in a possible death penalty hearing for Dennis Escobar, accused of murdering a Miami cop in 1988.

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Leon Firtel last month said the way defense experts interpret the brain-mapping technology was "not accepted" by the scientific community.

The decision — along with a similar ruling by another Miami-Dade judge, and one in Charlotte County on Jan. 2 — has vindicated prosecutors who have long maintained that the QEEG, or Quantitative Electroencephalogram, is unreliable.

"I'm hopeful that we can close the door on this chapter of junk science," Miami-Dade's Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. "It's unnecessary spending of precious dollars needed elsewhere in the courts system."

Terry Lenamon, who represents the accused Charlotte County killer, says he still believes the QEEG has a future in Florida criminal courts.

"We are at a time that science is moving forward in a way that is inconsistent with old, traditional methods," said Lenamon, who also represented Grady in 2010.

"The death penalty is final. Keeping relevant information such as the QEEG from jurors will be problematic and costly. If the Florida Supreme Court decides that these judges are mistaken about the use of the QEEG, it will be yet another impediment to the justice system."

Electroencephalogram tests, known as EEGs, record electrical energy in the brain through sensors attached to the head. The results are displayed as squiggly lines on paper, and the tests have been in use for decades.


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In recent years, computers have been used to create the "Quantitative EEG," known as QEEG, which translates the results into a digital image of a patient's brain to help analyze brain-wave frequencies. The technology is often used to detect brain damage in stroke and epilepsy patients.

The use of the QEEG has been debated for years within the medical and neurological science communities.

No state criminal court had allowed jurors to consider the QEEG until the case of Grady Nelson, who was convicted of first-degree murder in July 2010. Nelson stabbed his wife 61 times, then raped and stabbed her 11-year-old, mentally disabled daughter.

His defense lawyers said the QEEG showed Nelson's brain damage and explained why he had a propensity for violence and acting impulsively.

After Nelson's conviction, Judge Jacqueline Hogan Scola ruled that the QEEG's "methodologies are sound, the techniques are sound, the science is sound."

"I feel comfortable that the average juror can figure out what they believe and disbelieve, just like any other battle of the experts," Scola said.

During the penalty phase, a defense doctor presented jurors with a computer slide show replete with colorful graphics of the brain, and explanations of the effects of damage to the frontal lobe. Two months later, jurors split, 6-6, on whether Nelson should be executed — which, by law, meant an automatic life sentence.

Two of three jurors interviewed by The Miami Herald afterward said the QEEG evidence swayed them.

Afterward, lawyers in two separate, high-profile murder cases tried to use the QEEG. In September, at an unusual hearing, judges in both cases sat together on the bench to hear about 12 hours of rival expert testimony.

Prosecutors Reid Rubin and Christine Zahralban argued that the defense's use of QEEG was unreliable and misleading as a way of explaining a defendant's past criminal behavior.

The first defendant was Joel Lebron, one of five Orlando men who kidnapped, gang-raped and murdered a South Miami Senior High School student in 2002.

Despite Scola's ruling, Judge William Thomas declined to allow the QEEG. Jurors convicted Lebron of murder in September. During the penalty phase, lawyers still argued that their client had brain damage caused by a childhood car accident, leaving him prone to impulsive behavior.

The argument failed — jurors, by a 9-3 vote, recommended the death sentence. Lebron is awaiting final sentencing.

Judge Firtel, in the case of Escobar, held an additional hearing, issuing his ruling against the QEEG on Dec. 27.

Escobar and his brother are accused of fatally shooting officer Victor Estefan in 1988. In 1991, they were convicted and sentenced to death. The Florida Supreme Court overturned their convictions because the brothers, who blamed each other for the murder, were not tried separately.

Defense lawyer Kellie Peterson said the QEEG has been used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and other agencies to assess brain injuries and plan treatment for patients. In Escobar's case, the technology would not have been used to explain a propensity for violence, but just to show — in conjunction with other expert testimony — that Escobar had brain damage, she said.

"If it can help society and children and war veterans determine how a person thinks, then I think a jury deserves to have an objective measure of how a defendant thinks," Petersen said.

Peterson's office, the state-funded Regional Conflict Counsel, spent more than $40,000 on QEEG-related defense work. In the Escobar case, prosecutors say two of three doctors hired to rebut the QEEG have billed for $45,000.

Escobar is scheduled for trial Feb. 4. If convicted, he could appeal on the grounds that the QEEG should have been admitted.

In early July, Charlotte County, lawyers also tried to use the technology in the 2007 arson-murder case against Vernon Stevens. In a 14-page order, Circuit Judge Christine Greider found that "the majority of the relevant scientific community does not endorse the QEEG, including the American Academy of Neurology and the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society."

She also found it "persuasive" that judges, including Thomas and Firtel, had disallowed the QEEG in recent years.

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© 2013, Miami Herald Distributed by MCT Information Services

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