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Twain stalker released with credit for time served
Question of the Day
TORONTO (AP) - A former doctor who admitted to stalking Canadian country star Shania Twain has been released from jail with credit for time served.
Giovanni Palumbo pleaded guilty in September to criminal harassment and had been in custody since being arrested at Canada’s top music awards in March, where he showed up with a greeting card to give to Twain.
A judge sentenced Palumbo to three years of probation on Tuesday. He is not allowed within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of Twain, her family or any of her professional staff. He’s also not allowed to contact her or communicate with her and has been ordered to continue counseling.
Defense lawyer Gary Barnes said his client has a mental health issue.
Twain previously testified by video link and described the numerous lovelorn letters Palumbo had mailed to her homes in Ontario and Switzerland and discussed the feelings of fear and vulnerability conjured by his unwanted visits. He was seen at her family cottage, her grandmother’s funeral and at the Juno Awards in March.
After hearing Twain’s testimony, Palumbo decided to plead guilty but several more court dates followed due to legal wrangling over a psychiatric evaluation that had been requested by the prosecution ahead of sentencing.
That continued Tuesday, with Dr. Helen Ward telling court that Palumbo suffers from bipolar disorder, a narcissistic personality disorder and shows obsessive-compulsive traits.
Still, she found him criminally responsible for his actions, noting that at the time of his arrest, Palumbo seemed capable of differentiating between right and wrong.
“He knew exactly what he was doing,” Ward told the court. “He just didn’t care.”
Palumbo was volatile throughout his trial, and had several more outbursts during his latest court appearance. When Ward described his narcissistic traits, Palumbo shouted: “I’m not narcissistic _ I agree you’re all superior to me.”
Earlier, during testimony from the police officer who arrested him, Palumbo again couldn’t resist interrupting.
“I am innocent. I have never harmed anyone or anything in my entire life and I don’t intend to harm anyone or anything in my entire life,” said Palumbo, who used to work as an assistant surgeon but has since lost his medical license.
Barnes said he thought Palumbo’s condition had worsened over the course of his incarceration. He also argued that if Palumbo had been sentenced in the weeks immediately following his arrest, he would never have been handed the nearly eight months of jail time he wound up serving.
While Barnes confirmed at various points over the course of the trial that Palumbo remained in love with Twain, he said Tuesday he wasn’t sure if that was still the case. But he said he hoped Palumbo wouldn’t try to contact the country-pop star again.
“If he did breach the probation order, he knows where he’s going to end up,” he said.
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