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A Queens man charged with sexually assaulting an elderly woman doing Tai Chi in a park blames a bad trip on psychedelic mushrooms for the vicious attack, his lawyer said yesterday. The bizarre defense emerged in a Queens courtroom yesterday, as Robert McKeon, 22, of Bayside, stood accused of trying to rape the 73-year-old woman. His lawyer said McKeon, the son of a firefighter, was in Manhattan doing drugs with friends just an hour before he drove to Queens on Wednesday, tried to throw himself in front of a car and then attacked the woman.
"Obviously, it's a perverted act," defense lawyer Stephen Murphy said of the sexual assault. "But I've known this kid all his life. I could not possibly understand how he could have done something like this."
McKeon, who works at a Great Neck bar, had "diminished capacity," a type of insanity defense, which requires a jury or judge to find that he did not intend to commit a crime, Murphy said.
But prosecutors noted McKeon was aware enough to pull the woman's shirt over her face to block her vision and to flee when he saw cops.
"The evidence in this case is as overwhelming as the facts are grotesque," Assistant District Attorney Eric Rosenbaum told a Criminal Court judge at McKeon's arraignment yesterday. "He was pulled out of the bushes half-dressed, his clothing was found at the scene, he gave complete confessions."
The woman suffered broken blood vessels in her eye, bruises to her head, eye, shoulder and body, prosecutors said.
McKeon, who was set free on $175,000 bail yesterday, is facing up to 15 years in prison on charges of attempted rape, sex abuse and assault.
The attack came just a day after Peter Belegrinos, 25, of Astoria, was charged with sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl in Astoria Park.