TAMPA, Fla. (FOX 13) - Defendant Nicole Nachtman was smiling and giddy during a jailhouse visit with her older brother, days after being accused of murdering her parents.
Now, her attorneys have finally presented a defense for their client's alleged actions. They say behind the smiles and childlike behavior was a tortured and tormented young woman.
They say Nachtman suffered years of abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother and stepdad.
Her defense in brought in a mental health expert, Dr. Kathleen Heide, Wednesday to explain it to the judge.
"At times, it looked like she was suppressing anger towards her mother," said Dr. Heide.
Nachtman's attorneys say she suffered from battered child syndrome and that's what drove her to murder.
Dr. Heide said when she first met Nachtman in jail. she says the former FSU student suffered from drastic mood swings and did not appear to understand the seriousness of the alleged crime.
She also talked about her mother in the present tense.
"That the mom has control over what happens like the mom is this all-powerful figure," said Dr. Heide.
Even Nachtman's older brother Joe Carey told police his mom had a tight grip on his little sister.
"We all know she's had problems with my mom her whole life. My mom has a very strong personality and my sister has a very meek personality my sister is 21 or 22 and she is still affected by my mom," explained Carey.
The judge did not rule whether Nachman’s abuse defense will be heard by a jury. That decision could come soon.