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Therapist: Broyhill struggled with low self-esteem, sexual identity

Posted March 17, 2015
Updated March 18, 2015

— Jonathan Wayne Broyhill's stepmother remembered him Tuesday during his first-degree murder trial as a happy-go-lucky, loving and caring teenager who grew up in his conservative Christian home in Lenoir, N.C.

Broyhill defense rests FULL VIDEO: Jonathan Broyhill murder trial

His mother on Monday described her son – from whom she'd been estranged for more than decade – as having been a well-behaved student who made good grades, got along well with others and had plenty of friends.

But by April 22, 2013 – when police say the 33-year-old Broyhill stabbed Jamie Kirk Hahn, 29, inside her north Raleigh home – defense attorneys say he had become "so depressed and so despondent" that he had been thinking about suicide.

They admit that Broyhill killed Hahn and seriously injured her husband with the knife he took to the couple's home. But Broyhill loved the Hahns, the defense has said, and would never intentionally hurt them.

"Something snapped," they say, that led to the attacks. He told investigators he heard voices telling him to kill people.

Before the defense rested its case Tuesday morning, psychotherapist Susan Simon testified that she noticed a number of themes in her visits with Broyhill over a three-month period in 2012.

He talked about feeling worthless, unattractive and overweight, and he complained about not being able to "find himself in the gay world" or being able to identify with the "typical gay man who was healthy with beautiful hair, a tan and fit."

He talked about his struggles with his sexual identity – how his family thought he must be "demon-possessed" because he was gay.

He talked about a history of unhealthy romantic relationships and said he was lonely and sad because he did not have anyone in his life.

He talked about how his uncle sexually abused him as a child and how he thought it was normal.

And he talked about growing up in a dysfunctional family and being raised by a mother who he felt never really wanted to have children.

Daryl Broyhill testified that her stepson had lost touch with his mother after she divorced her husband in 2000 and moved in with Jonathan Broyhill's ex-girlfriend. There had been speculation in the family, Daryl Broyhill said, that the two were romantically involved.

"Jon told me that he felt that his mother had chosen (his ex-girlfriend) over her own family," Daryl Broyhill said, adding that he teared up on several occasions while talking about it.

Despite their close relationship, she testified, Jonathan Broyhill never told her that he was gay.

"Do you feel like that is something he would share with you or his father?" defense attorney Caroline Elliot asked.

"I think, because of our Bible beliefs, that he would be almost afraid to come to us to tell us that he was gay," Daryl Broyhill said.

"You think that would be a hard thing for him?" asked Elliot.

"Oh, yes," Daryl Broyhill replied.

She testified that Jonathan Broyhill also told her he had rheumatoid arthritis – the same condition his stepsister had. Another stepsister testified that he confided in her as having multiple sclerosis, just like her.

Hahn's husband, Nation Hahn, testified last week that Jonathan Broyhill – his longtime friend and best man at his wedding – told the couple he had multiple sclerosis, gallstones and pancreatic cancer.

But police testified that none of the health issues was true.

The prosecution has said Jonathan Broyhill lied about being sick to keep Jamie Hahn – his former boss – from pressing him on financial matters related to her political fundraising firm.

Broyhill had handled finances for a U.S. congressional campaign and had embezzled more than $45,000 from it – something Jamie Hahn knew nothing about, witnesses have testified.

On April 22, 2013, after numerous unsuccessful attempts over several months, she had insisted that Jonathan Broyhill help her go over the account.

Nation Hahn testified that the two were at his home when he arrived from work. Jamie Hahn was in her home office on the phone, and Jonathan Broyhill greeted him and hugged him.

Nation Hahn said he was upstairs changing into his gym clothes when he heard his wife's screams and ran downstairs to find her on the floor and their friend standing over her with the knife.

What jurors didn't get to hear Tuesday, however, was testimony from a state psychiatrist who prescribed Broyhill medication to treat depression, anxiety and psychosis.

At issue was that the state was not given proper notice of the witness as an expert witness. The defense argued he wouldn't be giving an opinion if he testified, but Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway disagreed, saying his testimony would unfairly prejudice the state, who wouldn't be able to call its own psychiatric expert.

Like multiple times over the past several days, defense attorneys called for a mistrial, accusing Ridgeway of an "abuse of discretion" and an "abandonment of the court's role" of ensuring that Broyhill receives a fair trial.


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  • Xander Bogaerts Mar 18, 2015
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    Broyhill lied about having 3 serious illnesses (pancreatic cancer, others) yet defense claims he is telling truth when Broyhill claims he did not go there with intent to kill Hahns. That doesn't add up.
    I agree with other commenters: depression, anxiety, low self esteem, relationship issues, family issues do not excuse murder, or at least excuse 1st degree murder. I wish Broyhill hadn't lived a life with that baggage, but even PTSD is not considered an excuse for murder (american sniper trial).

  • Bernadette Dan Unger Mar 18, 2015
    user avatar

    Whatever dude, now you should get a paid vacation to Utah for one of their "special" target ranges.

  • Alexia Proper Mar 17, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    I'm not sure it's an excuse. The defense, I guess, is filling time and trying to build sympathy for the man. I don't think I heard him say he did not kill the woman or try to kill the man. I can only assume he entered a "not guilty" plea since there is a trial, but not one word about how he did not do it.

  • Jack Miller Mar 17, 2015
    user avatar

    A man who wears a sweater vest has self-esteem issues and other issues.

  • Todd Singleton Mar 17, 2015
    user avatar

    Being sad because you're gay and fat is an excuse to kill now? What kind of defense is that?

  • Walter Smirth Mar 17, 2015
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    There are plenty of people who struggle with sexual identity, who are overweight and unattractive. But that is not an excuse for murder.

  • Rachael Garner Mar 17, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Haven't you been watching? The "defense" has been Arbour calling for mistrial over and over.

  • AshLeigh Marie Mar 17, 2015
    user avatar

    I have no sympathy for this man. He lied to everyone, he stole and he murdered. He did not intend to kill himself. He knew exactly what he was doing and now he's trying to make excuses. I can only pray that the jurors don't fall for his lies.

  • Rachael Garner Mar 17, 2015
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    I wonder if anybody ever knew "the real Jonathan". How can you believe anything that has ever come out of his mouth at this point?

  • Anne Havisham Mar 17, 2015
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    Hellish events happen in a lot of people's lives, most of whom never go on to (allegedly) hurt anyone. These may be explanations for his (alleged) actions, but as Ms. Sossomon intimated, these are lousy excuses.