ESCONDIDO — An elderly man accused of gunning down his two roommates, killing one of them, may have been delusional and suffering from paranoia during the April 2007 shootings, a neuropyschologist testified Jan. 23.
Largely due to two strokes, Octavian Crishan, 70, has a “fist size” area of damage to the right hemisphere of his brain, testified Dr. Erin Bigler, director of neuropsychology at Brigham Young University. The damage to Crishan’s brain is “severe” and “extensive,” he said.
Because the brain damage is concentrated in the right hemisphere his speech and movements wouldn’t give any indication to the internal difficulties — perception, time and motor skills — Crishan may be suffering from, Bigler said.
Bigler’s testimony was followed by surviving victim Matthew Vivian’s account of the shooting and the atmosphere in their Escondido home. Due to availability issues, Vista Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman granted defense attorney John Cotsirilos’ request to put Bigler on the stand during the prosecution’s case.
Crishan, a former Las Vegas concert violinist, is charged with the murder of his longtime friend Herman Wiesemeyer, 67, and the attempted murder of his other friend Matthew Vivian in Wiesemeyer’s Escondido home in the 2100 block of Parktree Lane on April 18, 2007. Both Vivian and Crishan rented rooms from Wiesemeyer.
Vivian, a resident nurse in his late 40s, testified he returned home from work around 8 a.m. April 18, which coincidentally is his birthday. When he entered the house, he noticed a body lying in the breakfast nook, but because the house was dark he couldn’t distinguish which of his roommates it was. He said as he went to investigate further, Crishan came out of the shadows of the den and shot him point blank with a Berretta semi-automatic pistol.
As Vivian laid on the ground choking on his blood, he testified Crishan told him, “Shut up or I’ll give you another one.” It was at that point that Vivian said he feigned his death and then surprised Crishan by jumping up and wrestling him for the gun. Just before Vivian got a grip on the pistol, he said Crishan pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger four times only to have the weapon misfire.
Eventually, Vivian said he was able to pin Crishan down and call 911. When police arrived around 8:45 a.m., Vivian exited the house and turned the pistol over to authorities, he said. Crishan came out three hours later, rambling and pleading to be shot, according to court documents. Police used seven bean bag rounds and a police dog to subdue him.
As a result of the shooting, Vivian said he suffered a shattered jaw, as well as spinal complications, which required multiple surgeries.
Vivian, who had lived at the residence for more than a decade, said he first met Crishan when the elderly man moved into Wiesemeyer’s residence in 2006 from a Las Vegas assisted-care facility where he had been following a debilitating car accident.
“We were all friends,” Vivian said when asked about the atmosphere in the house.
He said Crishan and Wiesemeyer both had a propensity for alcohol and arguing for the sake of arguing.
However, Crishan’s attorney painted a more hostile scenario for the jury in his opening statement. Cotsirilos said both men were verbally and physically abusive toward Crishan. According to the lawyer, Wiesemeyer had made threats about kicking his client out of the house, while Vivian threatened to poison Crishan with potassium chloride, a chemical used in lethal injections.
Both Vivian and Wiesemeyer have misdemeanor convictions stemming from battery charges. In 1996,Vivian was convicted of a misdemeanor charge stemming from striking his son, according to court documents. Wiesemeyer was arrested in 2005 for domestic violence against his wife; he pleaded guilty to disturbing the peace, court records show.
Crishan remains in custody on $1 million bail. He is expected to testify at the hearing.