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Dear Friends and Relatives,

The hearing at the Ward County Courthouse on Friday, May 23rd, was a marathon running from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m with a one hour break for lunch.
In spite of the long grueling day in court, the events of that day went about as well for Zach as they could.

In a brilliant move, Zach’s attorney, Chad McCabe, began the hearing with a request to have the expert witness sequestered. JV (John VanGrinsven III) the State’s attorney objected loudly to this motion, but Judge Rustad ruled in Mr. McCabe's favor. Unlike at Zach’s trial, the State’s expert witnesses could not listen to Zach’s experts and then provide questions to JV to be asked when they were on the stand to discredit what had been said.

Dr. Edward Kelly testified first and did an amazing job explaining in simple terms how the Zoloft inserts (the drug information that is included with a prescription) and the PDR’s (Physician Desk Reference) made progressive changes in warning information from 2004 to 2008. The black box warnings for suicide did not appear until 2005, after Zach’s trial. These warning began for children then progressed to adolescents and in 2006 to young adults. The literature in both publications began with subtle warnings for changes of behavior in 2004 to the strongest language possible in 2008 that also warns adults against suicide ideation and all age groups are warned to watch for agitation, akathisia, aggressiveness and violence. After presenting this pattern of how the warnings increased in seriousness, Dr. Kelly again stated theses warnings are not coming form one or two doctors but these warnings are from a committee of medical scientists who are concerned about the dangerous side effects of antidepressants.

JV grilled Dr. Kelly about whether warnings for homicide appear any where in the literature. Dr. Kelly saind no, but violence is homicide!
Dr. Kelly also testified that Dr. Belanger had a clear bias when he evaluated Zach because of his admitted addiction to child pornography. Dr. Belanger’ sickness made it unlikely that he evaluated Zach in a professional and ethical way. Dr. Kelly worked for three years with Dr. Belanger and he testified about other cases that Dr. Belanger clearly evaluated with bias.

The State’s witness Dr. Roerig, a doctor of pharmacy, testified that these inserts and PDR’s were no big deal, an over reaction to the dangers of antidepressants. He also said there was not enough Zoloft left in Zach’s body to cause the rage. Besides, he said, Zach had not taken Zoloft long enough for there to be a bad reaction to the drug. Dr. Kelly and Dr. Maureen Hackett both testified that you only need to take Zoloft once to have a bad reaction to the drug and have it cause rage. Dr. Kelly said he had a patient who took it only once and had a bad reaction. JV asked if that person murdered anyone. Dr. Kelly said, no but they wanted to.
After Dr. Roerig’s testimony, Mr. McCabe rushed from the courtroom with a sheet of legal paper. We found out later he was giving questions to Dr. Kelly and Dr. Hackett to be asked when he brought them back to the stand as rebuttal witnesses.

Dr. Hackett returned and had scientific evidence proving that once you stop Zoloft, it may not be in your blood, but it remains in your brain as a protein for months and possibly years. She also said it was impossible to calculate how much Zoloft was in Zach’s body the day of the murder. It is not known how quickly Zach metabolized Zoloft and again the drug remains in the brain long afterward.

Dr. Kelly testified to the same and both forensic psychiatrists said the PDR’s are like a bible to physicians and is hugely important to all people in the medical field.
Zach took the stand and when badgered by JV about why his friend would say that Zach had planned the murder (from a conversation at the state pen), the real Zach shown brightly. Instead of turning on his friend and calling him a back stabbing, egg sucking varmint, he calmly said this is my friend and he is honest and tells the truth. He told JV that what his friend said was twisted and made to look like something that was not said. JV got real worked up and fired back at Zach, how can you say this. Zach calmly said, its right there in the deposition Mr. VanGrnsen, just read it for yourself.

Thirty plus people crowded the court room to support Zach. Dr. Kelly asked who all those people were. When I told him, he had a sparkle in his eye.

Judge Rustad had a deputy of the court contact Rhonda on Thursday and requested that Zach have street clothes for the hearing. Judge Rustad also asked me how Zach was doing after the hearing.

Judge Rustad now will rule whether Zach should have a new trial or not. His decision will not be easy. There is strong evidence to support a decision for a new trial but this would set a precedent in two ways. First, it would be a declaration that Zoloft will cause homicidal rage and secondly, all of Dr. Belanger’s past evaluations would now be suspect.

Judge Rustad will need to be very courageous to rule in Zach’s favor. We ask that you continue to pray for this to happen during the next many months that it may require for a decision to be made.

To all of you we say thank you for your prayers. We believe your prayers are the reason the hearing went so well. Thank you for attending the hearing,, for stopping by the house to ask how things went, and we continue to give thanks whenever someone calls, sends a card or note, stops by or asks in publicly how things went and how Zach is doing.

God Bless
Gail and Rhonda

Zachary Schmidkunz -25550
P.O. Box 5521
Bismarck ND 58506-5521



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