HUDSON — Defense attorneys in the trial of accused murderer David Agan Jr. said he will show that the Valatie man has a history of emotional disturbance and mental illness.
Agan is accused of stabbing his estranged wife Christina to death at the Valatie Medical Arts Building in the afternoon of Dec. 10, 2015.
In opening remarks Thursday, defense attorney Dennis Schlenker said his client received a diagnosis of a serious emotional disturbance from the Columbia County Office of Mental Health a month before the death of his estranged wife.
Three months before the slaying, Schlenker said, Agan had been admitted to Albany Medical Center after attempting suicide for ingesting an unspecified amount or type of drugs.
Agan, 44, has been indicted by a grand jury on one count of murder in the first degree, a Class A1 felony, 15 counts of third-degree rape, 96 counts of third-degree incest and 28 counts of third-degree criminal sexual act.
Under state law, incest in the third-degree is a class E felony, defined as having sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct with a person whom he knows to be related to him, whether through marriage or not, ancestor, descendant, brother or sister of either whole or half blood, uncle, aunt, nephew or niece.
All the sex-related allegations occurred between January 2014 and December 2015, according to the indictment.
State police were called to the Valatie Medical Arts Building at about 2 p.m. on Dec. 10, 2015, for a report of an assault. When troopers arrived, they found 37-year-old Christina Agan, of Kinderhook, dead from a stab wound, according to state police.
Several members of Christina’s family appeared in court Thursday, dressed in purple in a show of solidarity.
Agan, who has been held in the Columbia County Jail since his arrest, wore a slate-gray, buttoned-down shirt and a black tie. He also wore a gold band on his ring finger.
In his opening statement, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said Agan murdered his wife to prevent her from reporting to authorities that he was having sex with a relative. The alleged victim was a blood relation of Agan, Czajka said. The Register-Star has a policy of not identifying alleged victims of sex crimes.
Czajka said Agan killed Christina when she began to “suspect something was going on.”
“He killed her to prevent her from reporting those terrible crimes,” Czajka said.
The alleged murder weapon was found by a state police K-9 unit in a creek in a wooded area a short distance from the Valatie Medical Arts Building, Czajka said.
Agan allegedly entered the medical arts building and stabbed Christina a dozen times with a screwdriver, Czajka said.
Agan spoke out during Czajka’s opening statement, saying, “He’s lying and I have a problem with it.”
Following his outburst, Columbia County Court Judge Richard M. Koweek ordered Agan not to speak during the proceedings.
Schlenker said he will prove Agan had an established history of mental illness, including hearing voices and post-traumatic stress disorder. Schlenker said he planned to present medical records and doctor’s reports as evidence of Agan’s mental state at the time of the alleged slaying.
Agan also suffered from nicotine and caffeine addiction, Schlenker said.
“There is no issue that [Agan] caused the death of his wife,” Schlenker said.
Schlenker asked for the jury’s compassion in considering Agan’s emotional and mental state at the time of Christina’s killing.
Among his mental diagnoses is intermittent explosive disorder, or a mental disorder characterized by loud, sudden outbursts of anger and violence, Schlenker said.
“I am not saying you should excuse him or give him a pass,” Schlenker said. “The law allows for compassion.”
Schlenker also said he will establish “what problems this man has suffered all his life.”
At the time of his wife’s death, Agan had Xanax in his system, Schlenker said.
In his opening, co-defense attorney Ian Crimmins said this will be “a hard case to sit on.”
The evidence will show overall that Agan is a deeply disturbed individual, Crimmins said.
The law requires the prosecution to make an opening statement. The defense is not required to make an opening statement. The defense is not required to prove innocence or that he is not guilty. The burden of proof is on the prosecution, Koweek said.
State police investigators Dustin Gardinier and Andrew Behrens testified to obtaining DNA swabs from Agan to prove he was related to one of the alleged sex-crime victims.
Behrens testified that Agan first refused to be swabbed for DNA evidence on May 11, 2016.
A forensic scientist testified that the alleged victim and Agan were likely related given the DNA evidence provided to the New York State Police Crime Laboratory.
Christina Agan’s mother, JoEllen Rooney, of Florida, briefly testified that she received a letter from Agan from Columbia County Jail in 2016. The contents of the letter were not discussed in court.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.
To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.