The 19-year-old seizure-suffering son of the 63-year-old LaGuardia High School English teacher who was brutally beaten to death yesterday was charged with her murder earlier today. The lawyer for 19-year-old Henry Wachtel is now blaming the beating death of Karyn Kay on his medication: “It’s a very tragic incident,” said defense attorney Lloyd Epstein. “Everyone knows that Henry is an epileptic and that sometimes with medications unexpected things happen.”
A police source told the News that Wachtel was taking Keppra and Lamictal, two common epilepsy drugs that can cause aggression; they added that he also suffered from depression and bipolar disorder. Source told the Post that in addition to Keppra, he was also on the steroid Prednisone (for migraines) and an anti-depressant.
Sources say that Kay called 911 around 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday in their apartment at 300 West 55th Street—she told the operator her son was having a seizure when he suddenly attacked her. “Help! Help! He’s attacking me! Help!” In the background, the operator could hear Wachtel loudly grunting. A neighbor said they heard the commotion too: “He was screaming, ‘I’m sorry mommy! I’m sorry mommy!’ over and over and over."
Wachtel, a mixed-martial arts enthusiast, was covered in blood when police arrived arrested at the scene, and was "extremely upset, wailing and crying,” according to neighbors. “He was wild-eyed and appeared to be very agitated,” prosecutor Courtney Groves said.
Neighbor said she had often heard them fighting: "It's been a very volatile relationship since he was a young, young boy, and she would scream and yell and say terrible things. Furniture would be flying, and it was just a very sad situation." Epstein said he didn’t think it was relevant: “I don’t know if I ever ran into a situation where a teenager and his mother did not argue.” Wachtel was ordered held without bail and, according to the Post, was taken to Bellevue Hospital for a psych exam.