Published: March 29, 2017
Publication: New York Post
By Julie Marsh
Dodging jail time for killing his mom wasn’t enough — now a former Fordham University student wants to get paid for it.
Henry Wachtel, 24, was found not criminally responsible for beating his mom to death in October 2014 while in the throes of an epileptic seizure.
Karyn Kay, a beloved La Guardia High School teacher, died of blunt force trauma to the head and torso after her troubled son hit her up to 100 times, according to court records.
Wachtel testified that he had no memory of the attack and cops described him as “wild-eyed” when they arrived at the family’s West 55th Street apartment in April 2012.
“I woke up on the kitchen floor to the cops picking me up and my mother being carried out on a stretcher,” Wachtel testified.
He was heard on a recording of his mom’s 911 call screaming, “Mommy, Mommy, please don’t die!”
Wachtel is being held by the state Office of Mental Health. He’s due in court next month for a hearing to determine if he has a “dangerous mental disorder.” That ruling will determine the length of his psychiatric commitment.
Meanwhile, his attorney, Judith Weil, insists that he has a right to his mother’s life insurance policy and other benefits from the Teachers’ Retirement System of the City of New York.
When the group refused to even disclose the amount of Kay’s life insurance policy, let alone hand the money over to her son, he sued.
Wachtel is her sole heir and listed as the beneficiary of her teacher’s benefits, according to his new Manhattan Supreme Court lawsuit.
Kay was separated from her husband, Fordham University professor Edward Wachtel.
The Teachers’ Retirement System has cited the state’s “slayer rule,” which prevents killers from inheriting from their victim, and asked for a court ruling on the matter.
Wachtel’s lawyer says the rule doesn’t apply to people like her client who were found not criminally responsible for the killing.
But attorney Arthur Schwartz, an estates and wills expert who is not involved in the case, disagreed.
“There have been a few cases where someone ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’ has inherited money from a deceased. But the standard of proof for the estate, to show that the killer was aware of what he or she was doing, is lower than the ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’ standard in criminal cases,” he said.