The hearing is being held at the 7th Circuit Court – Probate Division – in Dover, where multiple parties allege police Sgt. Aaron Goodwin exerted undue influence over Webber, while she was impaired by dementia, to inherit her waterfront home, stocks, bonds and a Cadillac.
Through his attorney, Chuck Doleac, Goodwin denies the allegations and asserts that he provided Webber comfort and care.
Goodwin did not appear in the court on Monday, but Portsmouth Police Chief Stephen DuBois attended the first day of trial. Dr. Schwartz was questioned most of the day by attorney David Eby, who represents the Shriner's Hospital for Children and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, both of which saw diminished inheritances when Webber's will was re-written to benefit Goodwin.
Schwartz said he was Webber's physician for about 20 years and reported concerns about her to the state Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services several times during the later part of her life. He said he had only made that kind of report about 10 times, for three to seven patients, during his entire medical career.
Schwartz said Webber was diagnosed with dementia "at least" by 2008.
She signed documents to leave the majority of her estate to Goodwin in May of 2012.
In 2008, Schwartz testified, he gave Webber a "mini mental test," because she expressed concern about her memory and some of his nurses thought she'd been confused. Her score indicated she had "mild cognitive impairment," he said.
Goodwin became Webber's medical contact in February 2011, said Schwartz and notes from his office staff described Goodwin as a friend, neighbor and police officer. Webber lived on Shaw Road in Portsmouth at the time, while court records show Goodwin lived in Dover.
The physician said that on Feb. 24, 2011, Webber was admitted to Portsmouth Regional Hospital for bleeding, due to her blood-thinning medication being "out of control."
He said she received a psychiatric evaluation that day because of her inability to understand the impact of her health problems. "I already had concerns about her cognitive status," Schwartz said, adding that he was concerned about her returning home with potentially "life-threatening" medical problems.
Dr. Simon Eison, the psychiatrist who examined Webber, reported that she did not know the day or date, Schwartz said, while calling that consistent with his knowledge of Webber at the time.
"In my opinion, it was more than mild dementia," he said, adding that he had concerns about the fact that Webber lived alone. "She was incompetent to make medical decisions."
Schwartz said that over the years, Webber would tell him an off-color joke at the start of their appointments, but when those jokes stopped, he considered it one indication of her mental decline. He said he was most concerned about her inability to understand her medical problems.
In April 2011, Schwartz testified, he was contacted by attorney David Mulhern who sought an opinion about whether Webber was competent to sign a legal document. The physician said he left a voice mail for Mulhern saying he could "not attest to her competence."
A 30-year practicing attorney, Mulhern was deposed Feb. 17 when he said Goodwin called him in early 2011 and asked him to revise Webber's will.
He said five things concerned him: that he was initially contacted about changing a will by a potential beneficiary, that the potential beneficiary was a police officer, that Webber was of advanced age, that she may not have known the true value of her property, and that she was dissatisfied with her longtime lawyer.
Schwartz testified Monday that he called the state Bureau of Elderly and Adult Services (BEAS) in August 2011 to dispute a report one of its staff members had filed that said there was nothing of concern involving Webber's care.
"I called and said, 'I disagree,'" he said. "My concern was that their evaluation was inaccurate."
In the fall of 2011, he said, he met with attorney Gary Holmes who also inquired about Webber's ability to endorse a new will. Schwartz said he told Holmes that not only did he think she was incapable of doing so, a psychiatrist had already made that determination.
Holmes prepared the disputed will and trust in May of 2012.
In March 2012, Schwartz said, he reported to BEAS that Webber had significant dementia and needed protection.
In April of that year, she told him that someone had stolen a painting from her, but when he questioned her about it, "the answers never made it clear what the circumstances were," he said. (continue reading)
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