Lehigh Valley

Testimony centers around brain inuries in Hitcho muder sentencing

Experts: History of head injury explains cognitive impairment

EASTON, Pa. - Though the number of brain injuries George Hitcho Jr. sustained is debated, all three experts hired to testify in his defense agree a history of head injury explains the cognitive impairment numerous mental examinations show.

According to testimony given this morning by Dr. Gerald Cooke, forensic psychologist, Hitcho had an IQ of 102 in elementary school. His current IQ is 82, a drop the psychologist called "significant."

Cooke said this decrease and scoring on other cognitive tests shows damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, areas that control executive function and processing respectively. That means Hitco cannot fully comprehend things, especially when stressed.

Cooke believes Hitcho's alcohol and drug use aggravated his brain damage, which he considers severe enough to mitigate his crime.

Louis Luck, a mitigation specialist, also testified to Hitcho's impairments, saying that at age 14 Hitcho read at a second-grade level and possessed the language skills of a fourth grader. Cooke's testimony showed Hitcho still has poor reading and math skills, and that Hitcho's learning disability is consistent with brain damage.

Cooke described Hitcho as "hyper-vigilant" and said he feels mistreated. This is at least partially explained by Luck's testimony, when she said a security guard sexually abused Hitcho when he was enrolled at a school for students with emotional disturbances.

Testimony will continue Thursday.

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