Psychologist says Farrow refined ways to do crime

Thursday, April 11, 2002

JACKSON, Mo. -- A psychologist testified Wednesday that while Samuel J. Farrow Jr. tested at the lower end of the intellectual spectrum, he was smart enough to be "refining his techniques" as a criminal when he was caught.

Defense attorneys, who maintain that Farrow is mentally deficient and can't be held accountable for his actions, questioned whether the doctor was thorough enough to make a knowledgeable evaluation.

Farrow, 24, faces 15 criminal charges ranging from kidnapping and rape to furnishing pornographic material to minors and statutory sodomy.

A 16th charge was dismissed late Wednesday when Judge John Grimm dismissed an armed criminal action count.

A verdict is expected today in the bench trial. The state rested its case after the testimony of the psychologist.

In his testimony, Dr. Stephen V. Courtois said Farrow knew exactly what he was doing when he kidnapped and sexually molested two children in July and November of 2000.

Scenario duplicated

The charges involve two girls, the first 6 years old, the other, 4. Both lived at different times in the same mobile home in Scott City, Mo., and were abducted from the same bedroom window.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle is asking the judge to give Farrow 11 life sentences.

Courtois, a forensic examiner at the Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center in Farmington, Mo., interviewed Farrow after he was arrested.

Farrow "planned out in great detail how he was going to do this abduction," Courtois said.

And he knew what he did was wrong because he took pains to avoid capture, Courtois said. He cited Farrow's decision to take a circuitous route along rural roads from his apartment in Jackson to the trailer in Scott City, as evidence of that.

Farrow's actions in the second abduction in contrast to the first abduction "show a tremendous amount of growth in criminal thinking," Courtois said. "He was much more cautious."

Defense attorney David Roth grilled Courtois about his methodology in testing Farrow.

Some of the tests Farrow received required him to read, which Farrow doesn't do well.

Defense psychologist

The defense hired its own psychologist to evaluate Farrow. That doctor is expected to testify today. Farrow's attorney Al Lowes said he would also call his client's parents to the stand.

In addition to the state's psychologist, the judge also heard testimony Wednesday from medical experts who examined the two girls, and the mother of the 6-year-old, a former friend of Farrow's.

She said when her little girl first told her that "a man came in the window and took me far far away," she thought the child had been sleepwalking.

"It was just so strange. ... I didn't know what to believe," she said.

When her daughter later indicated she was uncomfortable around Farrow, who used to baby-sit her, she said she grew worried.

After she moved to another city, a friend called her and told her about the second child's kidnapping. She said the woman told her: "'It wasn't a dream, you need to tell the detectives.'"

At the conclusion of testimony Wednesday, the judge denied a defense motion to dismiss three charges, including kidnapping and two counts of sodomy involving the 6-year-old.

abuchanan@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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