Zephan Xaver’s sentencing: Physical or developmental issues impacting decision making

Reporter: Amy Galo
Published: Updated:

What is behind the eyes of a killer is one of the main points of discussion in the penalty trial of Zephan Xaver, the man who admitted to killing five women execution-style at a bank in Sebring in 2019.

A neurologist, psychologist and even a pastor took the stand in his sentencing trial.

On Thursday, doctors looked at his ability to make decisions, trying to asses if any physical or developmental issues were getting in the way.

Remember, Thursday’s hearing is part of the sentencing phase of the trial. Therefore, the witnesses called on were not arguing whether Xaver was guilty; rather, the defense was trying to do whatever it could to save Xaver’s life.

That’s why Thursday’s discussion centered around potential risk factors, both physical and psychological, and psychologist Scot Machlus said Xaver has many.

These include a brain injury, a mother with mental illness, inadequate parenting, abuse as a child, attachment deficits and untreated severe mental illness.

“Which have been shown to increase the probability that an individual will be engaged in some sort of criminal behavior, that they will be engaged in some type of violent behavior,” said Dr. Machlus.

The big question on Thursday is how will it impact the judge’s verdict and will there be a verdict? Witness testimony is still underway, but WINK News will keep you updated with the latest developments.

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