by Kathryn Joanne Dixon

On September 18, 2006, Susan Polk testified for the second day in narrative form to prove that she killed her husband Dr. Frank Felix Polk in self defense at the pool house of the Orinda home on about October 14, 2002.

First, Susan made it clear that she made an offer to Dr. Polk to settle matters and he did not reply to it. In this September 1, 2002 letter, sent to him about six weeks before he died, she made the following offer:

1) I intend to leave for Montana;
2) I intend to take Gabriel and Eli and the dogs to live with me in Montana;
3) I will not disobey a court order, if issued, that I cannot take my children with me;
4) I intend to take my some personal belongings and furniture with me.
5) I will cooperate in selling the house.
6) I will return after the sale of the house to get the rest of my personal belongings;
7) I revoke all powers of attorneys naming Dr. Polk as my "attorney";
8) I will handle the accounting while I am in Montana regarding the rentals;
9) I will demand and receive the social security checks in the amount of $1,154 per month for the children;
10) I will use $30,000 from the pension plan to buy a home in Montana.

Susan testified that instead of replying to the letter, Dr. Polk went to Contra Costa Superior Court Commissioner Joanna Berkow and obtained ex parte temporary orders granting him custody of Gabriel and reduction in the amount of support to be paid to Susan Polk and exclusion of Susan Polk from the residence on Miner Road in Orinda.  When she learned of these temporary court orders she sent a letter on or about October 3, 2002 to seven judges of the Contra Costa Superior Court in which she contended Dr. Polk, a Mossad agent, used his powers to influence the court. (Click.)

When Dr. Polk received this October 3, 2002 letter via an inadvertent fax by Susan, he was enraged.  His reputation in general, and as a psychologist, was at stake.

After discovering the ex parte orders, Susan abandoned her immediate plan to buy a house in Montana.  She decided to return to Orinda. She was free to face a court battle to deal with the temporary restraining orders and to finalize the divorce.

Susan returned to the Orinda house, and per her demand, Dr. Polk took up residence in the adjoining pool house.  Gabriel was home.  Eli was in the Byron camp serving a sentence for battery.  Adam was in Los Angeles preparing to start classes at UCLA.

On or about October 13, 2006, Susan and Dr. Polk were together in the pool house.  Something happened.  Dr. Polk died.  Susan survived. The police detained both Susan and her son Gabriel who had called the police.  Initially Susan denied killing Dr. Polk, and then changed her story and said she killed him in self defense.  Gabriel told the police his mother killed his father, but denied being on the scene in the pool house when the killing occurred.

In her testimony on September 18, 2006, Susan provided extensive background about her relationship with Dr. Polk and with her three sons. Why?  She explained her state of mind and Dr. Polk’s state of mind when they confronted each other in the pool house.

Citing the law of self defense which is a complete justification to murder, Susan is trying to establish an honest, actual and subjective reasonable belief in her need to defend against imminent harm by Dr. Polk.  Proof of battered woman’s syndrome helps her prove that her belief in imminent harm was reasonable, and that her conduct constituted self defense.

Self defense and battered women’s syndrome constitute Susan’s hope for acquittal.

Yet, the various degrees of murder are still in play in this trial. The jurors have heard highly emotional testimony which would allow Murder 1, Murder 2 or manslaughter.

The Assistant District Attorney Paul Sequeira is trying to prove Murder 1 or Murder 2.  He contends that Susan deliberated and premeditated murder by getting what he refers to as “a leg up” or “one up” on the victim.  He argued in his opening statement that she hit him on the head and rendering him unable to defend himself, after which she stabbed the victim multiple times.  However, Susan's expert forensic pathologist, Dr. John T. Cooper did present scientific evidence that the wound on Dr. Polk’s head was caused after he died, when he fell back to the ground after having a sudden coronary arrest.  The head wound did not have a bruise. “Only living people bruise” according to Dr. Cooper. Therefore, Dr. Polk was already dead when this wound to the head occurred.  DA Sequeira has yet to rebut this testimony.

Aiding DA Sequeira in his attempt to obtain a first or second degree murder conviction is his proof via testimony of sons Adam and Gabriel that Susan told them prior to the killing that she wanted to kill Dr. Polk.  In addition, law enforcement testimony showed that she covered-up the killing, thus implying a guilty mind.  Specifically, the prosecutor has introduced evidence of cover-up via the defendant’s denial to the police that she killed the defendant and her subsequent admission she did kill him, coupled with various cover-ups of her behavior, including not calling 911 immediately, and her cleaning up and changing clothes.  At the completion of her second day of testimony, Susan Polk did not get into an explanation of her so-called “cover-up”.  The jury may find premeditation and deliberation although they may conclude Susan made this decision just moments before stabbing him.  According to People v. Wright, 703 P.2d 1106, 1114 (Cal. 1985) “‘[D]eliberate’ means formed or arrived at or determined upon as a result of careful thought and weighing of considerations for and against the proposed course of action.” “The word ‘premeditated’ means considered beforehand.” “A cold, calculated judgment and decision may be arrived at in a short period of time,” but “[t]o constitute a deliberate and premeditated killing, the slayer must weigh and consider the question of killing and the reasons for and against such a choice and, having in mind the consequences, he decides to and does kill.”

The prosecutor’s introduction of evidence through the testimony of her sons Adam and Gabriel that Susan was delusional or believed in conspiracy theories, makes it possible that the jury will not find deliberation and premeditation to justify a Murder 1 conviction.

If the jury finds less than deliberation and premeditation, the jury may find Susan had the state of mind of “recklessness” and that her conduct provoked any attack in the pool house, thus justifying Murder 2.

If the jury abandons finding malice aforethought for either Murder 1 or Murder 2, it may find manslaughter, a lesser included offense. There are two types of manslaughter which can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.  To prove the first type of manslaughter the jury must find the defendant lacks malice because her mental state was based upon a sudden quarrel or heat of passion.  In fact, the Susan Polk case is a classic case of this type of voluntary manslaughter in that it involves a sudden quarrel or heat of passion between husband and wife fighting over a divorce, property and child custody.

To prove the second type of manslaughter, so-called “imperfect self-defense manslaughter” the jury must find proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant had an honest but unreasonable belief in the need to defend against imminent harm.  If Susan’s belief that she had to defend herself from imminent harm by Dr. Polk was honest, though unreasonable and not the product of delusion alone, the law states she can be convicted of manslaughter.

However, Susan is not trying to prove she engaged in manslaughter which has a top prison sentence of 11 years rather than Murder 1 which is 25 years to life, or Murder 2 which is 15 years to life.  As a practical matter very few defendants in the state of California convicted of Murder 1 or Murder 2 are paroled after 15 or 25 years respectively.  Susan is almost 50 years old now.  Susan wants to prove self defense and be acquitted.  To do so, she need only show that evidence has been produced by the prosecution and/or the defendant that there is some reasonable substantial basis in the evidence for the jury to conclude a killing was done in self defense.  If so, the judge will be required to instruct the jury on self defense. Susan’s own testimony provides this evidentiary basis. The jury may apply the self defense jury instruction and acquit her if it chooses.

How is Susan doing so far in proving self defense and/or self defense coupled with battered woman’s syndrome?

To understand the possible effects of Susan’s testimony upon jury deliberations, it is necessary to explain “battered women’s syndrome”.

Brett Trowbridge in his article, Self Defense as a Mental Defense explained “battered women’s syndrome”, American Journal of Forensic Psychology, October 2001, Volume 19, Issue 4, Url:

In the 1970's and 1980's battered women's cases appeared in almost all jurisdictions, after it became commonly understood that women who had been repeatedly battered emotionally and physically by their spouses often reacted by believing the only way to preserve themselves was to attack him under circumstances which might not seem "reasonable" to a normal person. Psychologists began to understand battered women as often being "hypervigilant" and operating out of "learned helplessness". Although expert testimony had not previously been allowed in self-defense cases, experts began to be allowed to testify that a particular woman had been conditioned to be intensely fearful by a pattern of regular abuse, thus causing her to react in a manner "reasonable" from her point of view, though perhaps not "reasonable" from the point of view of an average person. Experts explained that these women suffered from a special mental disorder, "post-traumatic stress disorder", in which a battered woman experiences intense psychological distress at exposure to cues that remind her of an earlier traumatic event. This concept had originally been developed to explain some of the symptoms of Viet Nam veterans, but was extended to cases of serious and repeated spousal abuse. In these limited cases juries were allowed to take into account the particular mental make-up of the defendant when deciding whether her actions had been "reasonable".

In People v. Humphreys, 13 Cal. 4th 1073, the California Supreme Court ruled that battered woman’s syndrome can be used to establish self defense by expert testimony and the defendant’s testimony that the defendant perceived imminent harm as a result of her interactions with the victim and the escalating cycle of violence which characterized the relationship of the victim and the defendant.

On May 18, 2006, in her second day of testimony, Susan testified at length about Dr. Polk’s state of mind and conduct which caused violence against her in an attempt to show he intended imminent death to her in the pool house on October 13, 2002, and that it was reasonable for her, as a victim of battered women’s syndrome to perceive imminent death unless she responded in self defense.

First Susan provided her profile Dr. Polk’s character, much like a psychiatrist would. In fact, a Dr. Bernard is expected to be called by Susan to add to this profile and to explain Susan’s reactions over time to Dr. Polk’s violence toward her.

At the beginning of her testimony, Susan said she felt it was necessary to explain the role of repressed memories in her life.  According to Susan, many of her memories, long suppressed, began to come back to haunt her when she turned 40.  When she expressed these memories, Dr. Polk called her crazy, and said she should be committed.  He told her sons this.  Susan contends that her sons Adam and Gabriel believed their father and testified as their father would have wanted them to do in the murder trial by stating that that she was “delusional”.

Susan’s description of her marriage.

Susan testified Dr. Polk told her he fell in love with her because they had so much in common, such as their love of literature.  She said she shared with Dr. Polk his love of the outdoors.  However, Susan said Dr. Polk only wanted her to believe they had much in common.  They were not alike. Susan testified at age 40 she realized that Dr. Polk had sexual relations with her when she was his patient at age 14. She corrected her own declaration in a divorce proceeding which gave this age as “16”, stating this was an error.

Susan’s mother, Helen Bolling, objected to her marrying Dr. Polk and she had confronted him, when Susan was a teenager asking him to stop having a relationship with her.  He promised he would.  He broke that promise.

Thus, Helen Bolling, knew a secret which could have hurt Dr. Polk’s professional standing, a sore spot for him throughout his marriage.

Susan testified that at age 40, she realized she began having sex with Dr. Polk when under the influence of drinking tea he provided containing a drug and while hypnotized by him into trances.  Susan described sex with Dr. Polk as "rape".  Dr. Polk expressed aggression toward women. His attitude towards sex between men and women was that it was rape.  He said, “That was the natural way things were done between men and women.” He often referred to women with expletives such as “bitch”.

Before Susan married Dr. Polk at age 24, he took her on a trip to Europe and took his long-time mistress along. Susan did not realize the female psychologist was a mistress at the time. Later Dr. Polk tried to have Susan accept his mistress as her “family”. She refused. Thus, Susan says she did not have a normal marriage from the beginning. The relationship was askew. It did not improve.

Susan said, “He expected me to remain like I was when I was age 14 throughout our marriage.”

Before she married Dr. Polk, she met with his ex-wife Sharon. Sharon told her flat out in Dr. Polk’s office, when he was present, that Dr. Polk was "schizophrenic".  She said, “You have no idea what you‘re getting into."  Susan testified that she "didn’t even take in what the wife was saying" because it completely conflicted with her illusions about Dr. Polk.  His first wife, said, “Okay, you can have him.” 

Dr. Polk told Susan his ex-wife was crazy, and that he punched her.  The records of this attack are missing at the Berkeley police department.  Dr. Polk told her that he used to wake up at night when he was with his first wife, and realize that he had actually punched her while she was asleep.  Later Dr. Polk punched Susan while she was asleep.  Dr. Polk blamed his first wife for a causing an infection of his testicles. Susan stated in court that Dr. Polk’s first wife won’t testify at the trial.

In 1981, Susan married Dr. Polk. His behavior changed significantly during the first week of their marriage. He became violent. He told her he would kill her if she did not have sex with him when he wanted it or if she left him.  She did not leave.

During the marriage, before she filed for divorce, Dr. Polk took her to an attorney’s office. She was in a trance. She realized afterwards that she was forced to engage in acts which compromised her during this trance.

Will the jury find that Susan was mind-controlled by trances induced by Dr. Polk during her marriage?  Susan truly believes she was able to make accurate predictions during her trances.  Does a person who engages in frequent trances induced by another develop a feeling of helplessness toward the person who induces them?  Did such conduct by Dr. Polk make Susan into a battered woman who believed Dr. Dr. Polk had great power over her?

Susan’s description of Dr. Polk’s violent state of mind and beliefs during her marriage.

Susan testified that Dr. Polk said he was selected by his family to have "something wrong" with him.  Dr. Polk believed in a psychological theory that one person in a family is the “designated patient” or "scapegoat", and Susan contended he even selected his son Adam as a scapegoat, and later selected Eli, but that Eli rebelled and was “strong”.

Susan testified Dr. Polk, said he was selected by his own family as a “designated patient” or "scapegoat", and he suffered real symptoms of psychological distress.  He had such difficulty with shyness it incapacitated him in his Navy service.  The Navy diagnosed him as schizophrenic and he was hospitalized for a year after a suicide attempt.  He was discharged from the Navy.  Dr. Polk told Susan that a therapist and his first wife, Sharon, helped him to heal.  Later, after they had been together some time, Dr. Polk let Susan see his writings. She found them disturbing – he was so shy he often could not even walk down a street, he wrote.  He believed he was psychic.  Dr. Polk expressed revolutionary ideas.

Later, Susan discovered Dr. Polk was not very social, and socialized primarily with a tight group of friends who shared his political beliefs and with his patients.

Dr. Polk called Americans fat and stupid. He claimed the French were superior. At first Susan believed he was kidding. But he actually advocated armed conflict and was extremely militant. According to Dr. Polk, the mass graves of Bosnians were not a holocaust as Susan contended. They didn’t compare to the real Holocaust. The Bosnians were mere people in mass graves. Dr. Polk believed all Muslims should be killed. Dr. Polk hated all Germans and wanted to exterminate them.

Dr. Polk did cocaine and had hallucinations.  He saw ants crawling, when in fact it was not happening.  The hallucinations cleared up when Dr. Polk "changed his habits".

Dr. Polk punched Susan repeatedly during their marriage, and gave her black eyes.  A piano tuner happened to come by one day when she had two black eyes.  He testified at trial that he saw her black eyes.

At age 40, Susan began to think “My God, who is this the guy I’m married to? A veil was starting to lift. She filed for divorce. Dr. Polk admitted to the mediator assigned to their divorce case that he hit her.

Susan’s description of Dr. Polk’s control of her behavior.

Susan discovered  that she and Dr. Polk had difficulty making new friends. At first, Susan attributed it to their age difference, he being about 25 years older than she, and the possibility that other couples found that uncomfortable.  But as the years passed, Dr. Polk made it clear that he wanted Susan to have no friends, unless he chose them, and he only chose that she be a friend to his “family”, a small group of people with allegiances to Israeli causes.  Dr. Polk said to Susan, “The family cannot spare you.” Dr. Polk only socialized with his “family” and his patients. He monitored Susan.  He wanted Susan to have a friendship with his long-time mistress.  She refused.  Susan was required to ask his permission to go to the grocery store, or before he left home.

Dr. Polk had his office in his home in Berkeley and later in Piedmont. He would zoom out of his office in the middle of a session when he perceived Susan was on the phone with her mother, and demand she get off the phone, shouting, “Why are you talking to that f---ing woman?”  Susan said she felt like her husband was a domineering abusive parent to her.  He diagnosed her family as crazy and evil. He did guided visualizations with Susan about her parents, in which they abused her. Susan explained that a visualization implanted under hypnosis becomes like a memory.

Susan testified, “I wasn’t going to behave like a caged bird. I didn’t want to tiptoe around him.  Every time she objected to his monitoring her, it turned into a "big bone of contention between them". He was jealous of her male hairdresser, of coaches she talked to when she watched her sons play baseball, and of her female friends who worked with the Cub Scouts.  He forbade a realtor Roger Deakins to speak to her, even though he was brokering a deal to sell them their Orinda.

Susan found Dr. Polk’s friends to be boorish twisted people.  They didn’t share her values.  Dr. Polk blamed the US for the Holocaust and for turning Jewish refuges away during World War II.  He blamed the US for 9/11, stating “They’re worse than his people are.”  His people according to him were his “family” associated with Israel.  Dr. Polk tolerated defects in persons in his own circle but was intolerant of people she liked.  Susan testified she was afraid of Dr. Polk’s friends Dr. Marty Kirschenbaum and attorney Barry Morris.  After she announced she wanted a divorce, she was more afraid of his friends and what they might do to her.  Dr. Polk claimed his friends were involved in espionage and were capable of aggressive and dangerous behavior. Dr. Polk told her he treated a “hit man” as a patient in his psychological practice who was an attorney and traveled a lot.

After they had moved to their Orinda home, Susan told her husband she didn’t want him to have his office in the house.  He was furious.  She decided to go to Stinson Beach to avoid arguments.  He punched her in the head on her way out the door. He said, “I didn’t hit you. I just knocked your cap off.” She replied, “Let me go. All I want is a divorce.”  Dr. Polk shouted, “No!” and dragged her upstairs into their room and shut the door. “ Just let me go,” she said,” You can have everything. Custody, everything. I want out.”  Dr. Polk said he would kill her if she left him.  Eli and Adam barged into the room.  Dr. Polk raised his fist over Susan and said, “I could just hit you.”  At that moment, Eli punched Susan in the face.  Her lip split and she bled. Dr. Polk said, “Look what you’ve done to your son?  Eli said “O my God, what have I done and he ran to his room.” 

Adam said this is "psychological abuse".  He called 911.  Susan went to Eli’s room, and comforted him, saying “You’re not going to jail. I will take care of it.”  When the police came, Susan told them she fell and hit her head. Eli was not arrested. Throughout the entire incident Dr. Polk was smiling and smug.  He did not discuss the incident with Susan.  When Susan came home from the hospital after having five stitches in her lip, she thought, “How far does this have to go?”  That night, Dr. Polk took Eli to his favorite restaurant. It seemed like he was rewarding his son for having punched her.

On a subsequent occasion, Dr. Polk called the police and said Susan kicked him in the back.  Eli told the police this is what happened.  Susan said she did not kick him.  At the time, Susan thought it was ironic that she had lied to the police for Eli’s protection and then Eli had lied to the police about her. Susan thought “What am I doing here?”  When he testified at the trial, Eli said he recanted his story that his mother kicked his father.

Dr. Polk obtained a temporary restraining order after he was allegedly kicked by his wife.  Susan felt at peace about this order. Why? She didn’t have to go home. She rented a cottage at Stinson Beach.  She thought if she removed herself from the Orinda house, Dr. Polk would lose the object of his anger – her, and perhaps he and the boys would get along better. Months passed. Gabriel and Adam asked her to come back home – they needed her at the Orinda home. She returned home and tried to make things better.

Susan kept Dr. Polk’s secrets throughout their marriage.

Susan testified she never discussed with other people the fact her husband had met her when she was his patient and that he had sex with her starting at age 14, except on one occasion when she blurted it out during a group therapy session run by Dr. Polk, and on the occasions when she spoke to her mother about it.

Susan did not discuss that Dr. Polk induced trances in her and gave her tea containing a drug during the trances.  She kept secret the fact that she made psychic predictions during the trances which Dr. Polk turned over to the US authorities and sometimes to the Mossad.

Susan did not discuss Dr. Polk’s use of cocaine or his history of schizophrenia when he was in the Navy.

Revelation of any of these secrets could have caused Dr. Polk to lose his psychology license or could have affected his good reputation in the community. 

Important to this murder case is the fact that during the divorce Susan began to make revelations regarding Dr. Polk’s behavior and he was enraged at her for doing so.  These revelations are documented in letters and in a court declaration introduced into evidence by the defense.

Dr. Polk’s manipulation of their sons’ behavior.

Susan testified that when Adam was a toddler, he was left with a babysitter.  Later he told his mother his “pee pee hurt.”  Susan told Dr. Polk what her son said.  Susan testified Dr. Polk seized upon this as evidence of sexual abuse of Adam.  Dr. Polk told Susan that the babysitter engaged in satanic ritual abuse of Adam.  He contacted an FBI agent Jay Coleman in the Oakland office and made a complaint about the satanic ritual abuse of his son by the babysitter.  Dr. Polk took his son into his office and talked to him repeatedly and told him over and over that Satanists had abused him. 

Dr. Polk told Susan, "Adam needs you. He’s so damaged by what happened.  You have to save Adam."  Susan said it was awful to think Adam was abused.  She put off any ideas of going back to school, in order to take care of Adam.  Dr. Polk kept a notebook of what Adam allegedly told him about being ritually abused.  Susan introduced these notebooks into evidence as Defendant's Exhibits 462 and 463.  Susan told the jury, “I didn’t start these ideas of satanic ritual abuse.  My husband did.  I didn’t put these ideas into my son’s head.”  Susan said Adam became very anxious after having these sessions with his father in which Satanic abuse was discussed. 

When Dr. Polk became interested in satanic ritual abuse, he felt people were out to get him, and he bought a gun. . He also bought a gun for Susan, when she objected to having one.

Susan introduced Exhibit 464, entitled Reflections on Psychology. This paper was written by one of Dr. Polk’s clients who attended sessions with a group of professionals he supervised.  It contains Dr. Polk’s own statements about satanic ritual abuse.

One time, Adam, age 4, had a temper tantrum on the floor. Dr. Polk kicked him in the stomach. Susan was stunned, and told him to never do it again. Susan said she knew it was abuse, but did not doing anything about it.

Susan testified that Dr. Polk never disciplined his three sons.  He and his sons watched movies in which women were slapped by men.  Dr. Polk laughed with his sons about the “bitches” getting slapped.

Susan said she talked to her sons when they got in trouble. She listened to their side of the story, but often sent them to their rooms or grounded them if she felt they were wrong.

Dr. Polk tolerated his son’s misbehavior, stating, "I like strong kids.”  If their sons got in trouble with Susan, they went into Dr. Polk's office during his therapy sessions, and he emerged telling them,  “There’s a problem with Mom. You don’t have to do what she says.”  Dr. Polk told his sons their mother was crazy and delusional.  Sometimes she only asked them to “clean their rooms”, and this was Dr. Polk’s response. 

Susan tried to get some basic rules enforced. She took care of her sons and their friends in Orinda. She carded their parties, “Do you have a driver’s license. If not, leave. No drugs or alcohol were allowed at their parties, when she was present. Susan made food for her sons, took them to the movies, and drove them around to school and to sports practices and games.

Dr. Polk believed every family scapegoats one child.  Susan introduced Defendant’s Exhibit J, which was a paper Dr. Polk used regarding his “scapegoat theory”.  At first, Dr. Polk scapegoated Adam.  In an audio tape played to the jury, Dr. Polk referred to Adam as a multiple personality, programmed by Satanists, and highly damaged.  In hypnotic sessions with Susan, Dr. Polk demanded that she select a child to scapegoat.  She resisted.  Susan pled with Dr. Polk to spare Adam from being the scapegoat of the family.  Susan said Dr. Polk made her pay whenever she resisted his demands.  He made her pay by poisoning the dogs, or by engineering some situation where her sons would pay by getting into some trouble.

Next, Dr. Polk targeted Eli as the problem in the family, just like Dr. Polk believed his own family targeted him.  Suddenly Eli was placed in a remedial class.  Susan felt this was unnecessary.  But Dr. Polk insisted and even worked with the teacher on programs for Eli.  Susan told Dr. Polk that what you did to Eli was wrong.  Eventually Eli was suspended from school in Piedmont.  Dr. Polk’s solution was to move to Orinda and enroll his sons in school there.

Susan said she was angry at herself for not being stronger in regard to protecting her children from Dr. Polk’s scapegoating them.

Susan’s protection of her sons during her marriage.

Throughout her testimony, Susan referred to instances where she protected her sons.  In fact, when Susan made decisions about her marriage, she considered the effects upon her sons.  For example, she went to Stinson beach to live hoping that her sons’ would get along better with their father if she was not there. She returned home because Adam and Gabriel said they needed her.

Susan testified she went to Montana with Eli and Gabriel to enroll them in school and get a fresh start. They were having trouble at schools in the Bay Area.

Susan took the blame when Eli punched her so he would not be arrested.

As her sons became teenagers, Susan felt they were becoming more like their father.  They were physical and violent and engaged in name calling like he did.

Susan testified she stayed in her marriage with Dr. Polk for years in order to protect her sons while they were growing up and to influence their behavior in a positive way.

Dr. Polk put Susan into hypnotic trances and visualizations throughout their marriage.

Susan described trances induced by Dr. Polk.  This started at age fourteen and continued until months before he died.

The jury will have to decide whether Susan's state of mind in the pool house when she says she took a knife from his hand and stabbed him, was that of self-defense or murder.  In this unusual case, trances were part of the defendant’s state of mind.  Dr. Polk used these trances to control her, and she resisted at times.  Was the dispute in the pool house influenced by the long history of these trances?

Susan described one of Dr. Polk’s visualizations as his taking her to the center of herself where there was a television with a control, a dial to change the channels to recall events of years passed.  At first, during the visualizations, she, herself, changed the channels and recalled events.  Later during visualizations, Dr. Polk took charge of the TV controls and changed the channels to have her relive events in her past. He recreated her past, her memories.

Dr. Polk also engaged in visualizations with his three sons.  Eventually Susan became afraid that Dr. Polk’s use of visualizations with their children would be of this type where he seized control of their channels and controlled what events they would relive from their past. Susan said eventually, at about age 40, she began to realize what was real and what was the result of guided visualization by Dr. Polk.

Susan also said she believed Dr. Polk drugged her during their relationship, using tea at first during sessions and later using other substances. She started to watch all food she ate, and stopped taking any drinks that were handed to her by her husband.  Susan said she herself did not use illegal drugs but did drink alcohol occasionally.

Will the prosecutor rebut the existence of battered woman’s syndrome and the history of violence Susan provided regarding Dr. Polk?

DA Sequeira intends to call a doctor to the stand in rebuttal.  The purpose of his calling this witness has not been made clear.

Other than the testimony of her sons Gabriel and Adam which contradicts, in part, what Susan said about violence in her marriage with Dr. Polk, the prosecutor has not contradicted her with other witnesses.  The testimony of Eli Polk supports Susan’s version of events.

Did a continuing state of hypnotic trances over some twenty years, cause a psychological vulnerability of helplessness and fear in Susan Polk on that night, October 13, 2006, when she and her husband fought, and he died?   She says he hit her and threw her to the floor and got on top of her and used the knife to cut her trouser leg.  She says kicked him in the groin, and was able to take the knife from his hand.  She says he continued to come at her as she stabbed him. He did not walk out of the pool house to seek help after one or two stab wounds.  He continued to try to take the knife from her.  Suddenly he stood up and said "Oh my God, I am dead" and fell backward.  Susan's expert forensic pathologist testified he died of sudden coronary arrest.  Was she in a prolonged trance during this killing and even afterward when she did not immediately call 9/11 and at first told the police she did not kill her husband?   But then, shortly thereafter, when she was sure her son Gabriel was all right, she told the police she killed her husband in self defense.  She took the blame.  Did she ever come out of these hypnotic trances induced by Dr. Polk?  She is testifying at times in a strange way, as though hypnotized.

At the close of her testimony on May 18, 2006, Susan began to read from her diaries which apparently are voluminous.  On May 19, 2006, her son Adam testified.

On May 22, 2006, Susan resumed her own testimony.

Kathryn Joanne Dixon © 5/22/06