GREEN BAY – Psychologists Thursday offered differing opinions about whether Taylor Schabusiness suffered from mental disease or defect at the time she strangled former boyfriend Shad Thyrion to death in February 2022.
Schabusiness was convicted Wednesday evening, on the third day of the trial, of first-degree intentional homicide, third-degree sexual abuse and mutilating a corpse in the February 2022 strangling and mutilation of Thyrion.
Jurors heard testimony on Thursday about Schabusiness’ mental state when the crimes occurred. They began deliberations shortly before 5:30 p.m.
Schabusiness showed evidence she was suffering with a range of mental issues when she was evaluated at the Brown County Jail in 2022 and 2023, Diane Lytton, an independent psychologist who practices in Oshkosh, said Thursday when she testified for the defense.
Under questioning from defense attorney Christopher Froehlich, Lytton said Schabusiness, who had thrown a plastic chair at Lytton during an evaluation, “was a psychotic person. Off the scale.”
“In April of 2021, she was under a civil commitment order,” Froelich said, “because she was mentally ill.”
Brown County Assistant District Attorney Caleb Saunders, though, said the issue for jurors is Schabusiness’ mental state when she committed the crime, “not in 2012, not in 2014 … not in 2021,” but when the Thyrion was slain in February 2022.
At stake for jurors, who will be asked to decide this shortly after 5 p.m.: Whether Schabusiness will spend the rest of her life in prison for first-degree intentional homicide or in a mental health facility.
Psychologists who testified for the prosecution were skeptical about much of what Lytton concluded.
RELATED: Taylor Schabusiness convicted of homicide, mutiliating a corpse, sexual abuse in Shad Thyrion death
Timeline of the case: Taylor Schabusiness trial started Monday in beheading case; here is timeline of events in the case
Schabusiness’ mental condition plays a significant role in this trial. The defense has painted a picture of a woman whose mental capacity had been affected by events beginning with her mother’s death when she was in fifth or sixth grade, her being a daily marijuana-smoker since she was in middle school, and a regular user of methamphetamine as an adult. The stimulant is often made and used illegally.
The other psychologists, testifying for the prosecution, agreed that Schabusiness’s use of illegal drugs was significant, but did not agree that regular drug-intoxication created a mental disease or defect for Schabusiness. Christina Engen, the psychologist appointed by the court, testified that she saw little to convince her that Schabusiness suffered from a mental disease or defect.
Schabusiness “endorsed a bunch of symptoms that people with genuine mental illness would not endorse,” Engen testified. “And I’m not aware of any time where Ms. Schabusiness displayed psychotic symptoms.”
Engen said she agreed that Schabusiness had been found by a previous evaluator to suffer from “polysubstance abuse,” but regular use of multiple illegal drugs is not a mental disease.
Schabusiness waived her right to testify during the second phase of the trial.
Timeline: Taylor Schabusiness trial started Monday in beheading case; here is timeline of events in the case
What is the second phase of the trial
A plea of not guilty by mental disease or defect was entered on Schabusiness’ behalf in September by her former attorney, Quinn Jolly, who Froelich replaced in March, weeks after Schabusiness had attacked Jolly in court.
For the first phase of the trial, the jury was instructed to issue a verdict on whether she committed the crimes with which she was charged. They found her guilty of all three.
The second part of the trial will judge her mental state at the time of the crime.
Timeline of events in Schabusiness case
Feb. 23, 2022: One person in custody in ‘suspicious death’ of 24-year-old Green Bay man on west side
March 1, 2022: Green Bay police report says woman shared meth and had sex with man, then strangled and decapitated him
March 3, 2022: Green Bay woman accused of strangling, decapitating man told police she was on meth. How does that drug make people so violent?
March 4, 2022: What we know and what we don’t know about the Green Bay dismemberment of Shad Thyrion, ‘a kind and compassionate person’
March 17, 2022: Judge explains why he ordered competency exam of Taylor Schabusiness in Green Bay dismemberment case
April 13, 2022: Judge allows second exam after Schabusiness found competent for trial in Green Bay decapitation, dismemberment case
May 10, 2022: Green Bay woman accused in beheading, dismemberment case gets new competency hearing, set for May 19 in Brown County Circuit Court
May 19, 2022: Taylor Schabusiness of Green Bay found competent to stand trial in the decapitation, dismemberment case
June 2, 2022: Taylor Schabusiness to stand trial in the February killing, decapitation of a Green Bay man inside a basement
July 5, 2022: Taylor Schabusiness pleads not guilty in February killing, decapitation of Shad Thyrion of Green Bay
Sept. 1, 2022: Defense lawyer in Green Bay beheading case asks judge to find Schabusiness not guilty by reason of insanity
Nov. 1, 2022: Taylor Schabusiness hearing on competency evaluation in beheading case postponed until Nov. 18
Nov. 22, 2022: Trial set for Taylor Schabusiness in case where Green Bay man was decapitated
Jan. 6, 2023: Taylor Schabusiness ‘capable of proceeding’ in beheading case, court-appointed expert says
Feb. 14, 2023: Taylor Schabusiness attacks lawyer in Brown County courtroom; she is charged with killing, decapitating friend
Feb. 17, 2023: After Schabusiness attacks lawyer, sheriff plans for more security in next court appearance
March 3, 2023: Judge Walsh rejects request to remove himself from Schabusiness case after she attacked her attorney in court
March 24, 2023: Taylor Schabusiness to go on trial July 24 in homicide, beheading of Green Bay man
March 31, 2023: Schabusiness seeks a change of venue, insists media coverage poisons her chances of not-guilty verdict in beheading case
April 19, 2023: Judge in Green Bay decapitation case will not move Schabusiness homicide trial out of Brown County
May 5, 2023: Taylor Schabusiness lawyer asks Brown County judge to allow new mental-health evaluation in beheading case
May 9, 2023: Judge will not reduce $2 million bail for Taylor Schabusiness in beheading case
May 31, 2023: Brown County judge rules photos in Schabusiness case must remain under seal, at least until June 13 hearing
June 13, 2023: Judge denies Taylor Schabusiness’ attorney’s attempt to suppress statements made to police
July 5, 2023: Schabusiness will get new competency exam; judges denies request to delay her trial in beheading case
July 13, 2023: Schabusiness unfit to stand trial for killing, corpse mutilation, forensic psychologist tells judge
July 21, 2023: Judge rules Taylor Schabusiness is fit to stand trial in 2022 slaying of Green Bay man
July 24, 2023: Schabusiness trial: Victim’s mother talks about finding her son’s severed head in bucket
July 25, 2023: Schabusiness trial: Thyrion’s death ruled homicide; expert says body mutilated for hours after death
July 26, 2023: Schabusiness police interview describes Thyrion’s death; prosecution, defense wrap up their case
July 26: 2023: Taylor Schabusiness convicted of homicide, mutiliating a corpse, sexual abuse in Shad Thyrion death
Email Doug Schneider at DSchneid@Gannett.com, call him at (630) 373-0799 and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Jury hears testimony about Schabusiness’ mental state when Thyrion was killed