CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A Palm Harbor man is getting his day in court in connection with his strangling an elderly woman with a dog leash in 2017.

The man's defense attorney admits the attack happened, but claims his client is not guilty by reason of insanity. 

  • Defense arguing Emanuel Qosaj not guilty by reason of insanity
  • Prosecutors say Qosaj faking mental illness, was on drugs
  • Qosaj's siblings told court schizophrenia runs in family

Prosecutors say Emanuel Qosaj, 22, attacked Linda Konior, 76, because he had not slept in days and was taking a number of drugs. 

Konior took the stand Wednesday, and told the court about the day Qosaj attacked her for no apparent reason, beating her and choking her with a dog leash.

"Thinking to myself I have one breath left in me," Konior said. "I'm going to die and there was nothing that I could do about it. I couldn't stop it. I was being strangled to death."

Konior said she had a hard time screaming for help because Qosaj was pushing her face in the dirt.

"So, I'd have to spit the dirt out to scream, and every time I screamed, I heard him say, 'I'm going to kill you.'"

The jury then heard a 911 call from a neighbor reporting the attack.

"Oh, he's going to kill her," the caller said. "Oh stop, oh he's choking her to death."

Cell phone video shows deputies later tasering Qosaj to subdue him.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Traverso told jurors they should find Qosaj guilty of attempted first degree murder.

"He said that he realized that was his opportunity to kill," she said.

However, defense attorney Roger Futerman countered that Qosaj was suffering from mental illness, and it was that illness that drove him to attack Konior.

"Why he attacked her was because of mental health," Futerman argued. "A schizophrenic attack. You're going to hear that his mother has been diagnosed for years with schizophrenia."

Later, Qosaj's brothers testified to their mother's history with schizophrenia and that the condition runs in their family. They added that their sister, 14 at the time, committed suicide due to the mental illness.

Prosecutors did note one of Qosaj's brothers said during a deposition that he thought Qosaj was faking his mental illness.

The trial is expected to wrap up next week.