This story previously aired on December 2, 2017. It was updated on November 5, 2022.
To this day, Jake insists his mind was not his own when he set out to kill Dr. Michael Weiss at his office on Nov. 12, 2012.
Jake Nolan: There’s never gonna be a night I don’t fall asleep feeling awful for what I’ve done.
Jake Nolan: The knife was in my pocket. And the sledgehammer was over my shoulders … He sees the sledgehammer and charges at me … and I reached for the knife. … Here I am with this knife. And the guy’s bleeding. And I’m bleeding. And I’m thinking, “Oh my God, this is terrifying.” It’s as if I woke up from a bad dream.
After Jake stabbed him, Dr. Weiss fought back furiously. Both men ended up in the hallway of the Manhattan high-rise, where Weiss also lived.
Both men were rushed to the hospital, where Jake was placed under arrest for attempted murder and handcuffed to his bed.
In the weeks ahead, Jake’s bizarre story unfolded. His claim: that he had been manipulated to kill by his own cousin, psychiatrist.
Jake Nolan: My experience with Pamela, looking back, was incredibly frightening, incredibly frightening.
Jake’s target that day, Dr. Michael Weiss, was Buchbinder’s ex-boyfriend and another psychiatrist.
Peter Van Sant: Do you believe he was brainwashed?
Debbie Nolan: Yes.
Debbie and Jim Nolan, Jake’s parents, are devastated.
Debbie Nolan: He is basically a really good kid who doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.
When “48 Hours” met Jake in the summer of 2016, he seemed rational.
Jake Nolan: I’ve been on meds now for over a year-and-a-half that have finally worked for me.
But he says that wasn’t always the case. Jake’s parents insist that to understand how and why their then-20-year-old son could have been conditioned to kill, you have to go back to his childhood.
Jim Nolan: Jake was our third and our youngest child … He was an absolute delight. He was gifted, he was smart … he liked to invent things.
But Jake also had problems. By the age of 5, he was diagnosed with ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Jim Nolan: There was something with him that just … wasn’t the same as everybody else. And we started to notice significant changes in his personality and his demeanor around the ages of 14, 15.
Peter Van Sant: What did you see?
Jim Nolan: He went through these large mood swings.
Still, Jake had moments of brilliance while in high school in Miami. He made news after he won a prestigious contest co-inventing a study tool app for iPhones called “Flash-Me.”
Jake Nolan: And then a month later, I couldn’t get outta bed. My parents bribed me with everything to get out of bed. … “Please get out of bed; please get out of bed, Jake.” … “You gotta go to school; please go to school today. Don’t miss another day of school.”
Jake was then diagnosed with depression and anxiety. These episodes worsened to the point where, at the age of 17, Jake threatened to kill himself.
Jim Nolan: He got a butcher knife from downstairs, and he took it upstairs to his room, and he said he was gonna kill himself. We were terrified.
Jake was hospitalized and was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Psychiatrist Dr. Sasha Bardey evaluated Jake for the defense.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: Bipolar disorder is a severe and chronic mental illness that’s characterized by severe mood swings … swings that go from deep, dark, suicidal depressions to periods of incredible elation … grandiose ideas, poor judgment.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: He’s a mess. He’s such a prisoner of his own mind that he can’t get anywhere in life.
Jake Nolan: There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of killing myself.
Jake Nolan: I’ve tried strangling myself, drowning myself, overdosing on drugs.
By the time Jake was in college, doctors had prescribed some 30 medications to treat him — with little success.
Peter Van Sant: Some of these medications … change brain chemistry, do they not?
Dr. Sasha Bardey: Well, these are powerful psychotropic medications. His disorder, his problems were so profound … sometimes he’s taking four, five, six medications at once.
Jake admits he was also doing illegal drugs and drinking, barely making it to class. The Nolans thought their prayers had been answered when Dr. Pamela Buchbinder – Debbie’s niece — offered to help.
Debbie Nolan: So, we thought this was great. I adored Pam.
Peter Van Sant: You trusted her.
Debbie Nolan: I trusted her with my most prized possession, my child.
The plan: Jake would live part-time with Buchbinder in her Manhattan apartment. She would give him therapy sessions and monitor his meds. In return, she proposed he help take care of her then-4-year-old son, Calder, in spite of Jake’s mental illness.
Jake Nolan: Pamela and I had formed a relationship when I was really young. This is my cousin. This is someone I really knew. … And I entrust everything into this one woman. I mean, this woman is gonna save my life.
By all accounts, the plan seemed to be working.
Debbie Nolan: I thought he was very happy. And I thought he was quite stable.
Peter Van Sant: So, you guys must’ve felt everything’s coming together here?
Jim Nolan: Thank you.
Peter Van Sant: Finally.
Jim Nolan: Thank you. Right.
But the Nolans now say sending their son to live with Pamela Buchbinder was the biggest mistake they have ever made.
: It’s a total horrible nightmare
WAR OF THE PSYCHIATRISTS
When Jake Nolan went to live with his psychiatrist cousin, Dr. Pamela Buchbinder, he had no idea he’d end up on the front lines of a physical and psychological war.
Reporter Rebecca Rosenberg has covered the case for The New York Post.
Rebecca Rosenberg: The relationship between Dr. Buchbinder and Dr. Weiss was very toxic from the outset. … The relationship was on again, off again. … There were allegations of domestic violence on both sides.
Roland Acevedo is an attorney for Dr. Michael Weiss.
Roland Acevedo: It definitely got physical.
Peter Van Sant: Is it true that Pam once attacked Michael with broken glass?
Roland Acevedo: She was arrested and charged with an assault … He received stitches … I mean, there’s physical proof that he was attacked.
Peter Van Sant: Is it true that Michael Weiss has also been arrested in the course of this war with Pam?
Roland Acevedo: Yes … Pamela contended that Michael threatened her or attempted to assault her.
In each incident, the charges were dismissed. But the war of the psychiatrists moved onto another battlefield, the courtroom, as Buchbinder and Weiss fought over the custody of their son.
Peter Van Sant: These are two psychiatrists. Couldn’t they talk it out?
Roland Acevedo: There was no communication.
But back during the times when he and Pamela were communicating big time, Michael Weiss attended family parties, including Jake’s bar mitzvah.
MICHAEL WEISS (bar mitzvah video): Pamela and I just want to wish you congratulations on your bar mitzvah, um we’re both so happy for you.
PAMELA BUCHBINDER (bar mitzvah video ): We were inspired by all of the speeches about opportunity and charm and character and we think you have them all.
And that makes it even more incredible that Jake would target him.
Jake Nolan: This is a man who respected me and who I respected greatly.
Weiss and Buchbinder never married, and broke up for good soon after their son, Calder, was born. When Calder was 4, Buchbinder asked Jake to be her child’s godfather — shortly before she took Jake in. Jake’s mother is convinced that is when Buchbinder began to manipulate his mind.
Debbie Nolan: Jake had been feeling so bad about himself. And here, all of a sudden … “I’m so important to Calder. Everything I do has to be right.”
Jake Nolan: This was a kid that I loved more than life.
Defense psychiatrist Dr. Sasha Bardey says Buchbinder knew how to give Jake the life he craved.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: Jake wants a normal life … he wants to be a successful, respected family man with a nuclear family … and a happy life.
Peter Van Sant: There’s a photograph of the three of you in bed, basically in your underwear. What should we take from that picture?
Jake Nolan: I guess that just goes to show you the level of comfort that I really felt there. … It was not unusual in the morning … for her to invite me into bed … with Calder and I, and to share that familiar moment, you know, really feel like a family together.
But Dr. Bardey finds the images deeply troubling.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: When you think that you’re seeing pictures of, essentially, a patient and his psychiatrist … it’s really horrific. It’s really creepy.
Just as troubling for Jake’s family were text messages discovered on his cell phone.
Peter Van Sant: Let me read to you some of the texts that Pam Buchbinder sent to Jake. “You’re just the most fun person to love!” “You’re so beautiful.” … She’d call him “Lovey … Sweet J.” “You are remarkable. You are brilliant. I have so many thoughts about you.”
Jim Nolan: Well, this is almost sickening. And there was never any romantic or sexual relationship ever between these two people. So, what this is, is all mental manipulation.
Peter Van Sant: “I miss you terribly,” she would say when you were away. That sounds romantic.
Jake Nolan: You know, it does. I don’t know what her intentions were. To this day I wouldn’t be able to tell you.
And as Pamela Buchbinder was apparently building Jake up, he says she was tearing Michael Weiss apart, claiming Weiss was refusing to pay Calder’s child support — and worse.
Jake Nolan: She had me convinced … that he was being molested at his father’s home.
Peter Van Sant: And how many times did she say this? Was this repeated over and over again?
Jake Nolan: Oh, this was every day.
Peter Van Sant: Has Michael Weiss ever, ever abused his son in any way?
Roland Acevedo: Absolutely not. Michael worships that child.
Peter Van Sant: Jake, what real evidence did you have that Michael was sexually abusing his son?
Jake Nolan: There was no evidence.
But at the time, Jake says, that’s how Buchbinder was able to pull him into the plot to kill Michael Weiss.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: Part of the indoctrination process was to get Jake to participate in developing the plan.
And the plan, if you believe Jake, was horrific.
Jake Nolan: Pamela was determined for me to, you know, torture Michael before killing him.
Jake Nolan: She wanted me to inject him with some, you know, poisonous chemicals … She wanted to burn him alive in front of a group of people.
Jake’s story is dramatic, but is it true? Dr. Pamela Buchbinder would not speak to “48 Hours.” She has not been arrested or charged with any crime. But Michael Weiss is suing her for the attack. And in court papers she calls the claims against her “utterly baseless” and states, “I never asked Mr. Nolan to attack or harm Mr. Weiss.”
Rebecca Rosenberg: Dr. Buchbinder also claims that there’s no smoking gun here. There’s no evidence of emails or text messages that show that she and Jake plotted this together.
Jake Nolan: You can’t deny the footage that shows her in Home Depot buying a sledgehammer.
Manhattan D.A.’s Office
Her attorneys would not comment on why Dr. Pamela Buchbinder bought that sledgehammer. But Jake insists the surveillance video at a Home Depot in New York City proves his claims. Buchbinder is seen standing next to him paying for the very tool that police would find the next morning on the floor of Michael Weiss’ office.
Peter Van Sant: Jake there is no one that really disputes that you suffer from mental illness. But could you have another problem as well? Could you be a sociopath?
Jake Nolan: No, I could not. Had I never met Pamela Buchbinder this wouldn’t be my story.
CAUGHT ON CAMERA
As Jake Nolan’s eyes opened on the morning of Nov. 12, 2012 — the day he was supposed to kill Michael Weiss — he says he wasn’t alone.
Jake Nolan: Pamela was there in bed … rubbing my back, telling me how much she loved me — that I was a savior. That I was the greatest person ever. That no one else understood her.
Just the night before, Pamela Buchbinder had bought a sledgehammer at a Home Depot in New York —
Jake Nolan: That is Pamela Buchbinder paying for the sledgehammer. She’s right there. She has cash in her hand,” Jake said of the store surveillance video.
— with plans, Jake claims, of having him bash her ex-boyfriend in the head.
Jake Nolan: You know, I intended to kill him.
Jake says that Buchbinder’s lovey-dovey mood quickly changed as she allegedly packed a duffel bag with weapons.
Jake Nolan: She was hysterical, crying tears as she put the sledgehammer into a duffel bag with the kitchen knife.
Peter Van Sant: Like she’s packing a bag to head off to school, except this is to head off to a murder?
Jake Nolan: Exactly.
And there was one more item that was vital to the scheme.
Jake Nolan: The night before, she had provided me with the map … and how to get into his apartment. She handed me that.
The map, which Buchbinder drew herself, showed the multiple entrances of Michael Weiss’ building.
Peter Van Sant: Do you believe, essentially, this was a battle plan map?
Roland Acevedo | Dr. Weiss’ attorney: I believe it was a map that Jake was provided to allow him to get access to Dr. Weiss’ apartment without going through the normal security measures.
Buchbinder says she never gave Jake the knife and that the map was given to Jake to help care for Calder.
Rebecca Rosenberg: It had the daycare where he was going, it had Dr. Weiss’ building.
Jake says Buchbinder said goodbye that morning with just one goal in mind.
Jake Nolan: “Today is the day. Life is gonna be so much better after Michael is” — she used the word “terminated,” “after Michael is terminated.”
Clutching that hand-drawn map, Jake headed to Weiss’ midtown Manhattan high-rise.
Rebecca Rosenberg: He kind of scoped out the building on different sides. It had two separate entrances. … Entered through the business entrance.
Manhattan D.A.’s Office
Jake signed in, writing that he was heading to a tutoring center in the building called “Bright Kids.” It was marked on the map. He didn’t even bother using an alias.
Jake Nolan: I signed in with my own name. Remember, I was willing to die for this woman. I wasn’t trying to hide anything.
Jake went straight to the 12th floor and walked in on Weiss in the middle of a session. Jake left the office and waited in a stairwell while Weiss finished with the patient.
Peter Van Sant: What are you thinking to yourself? What’s going through your head?
Jake Nolan: I think I was really nervous. I think I wanted to back out. But I didn’t have the means to do it. ‘Cause I couldn’t go back to Pamela without this done. … I felt like I had no choice.
After the patient left, Jake asked Weiss for some financial forms for Calder’s school. Buchbinder claims picking up those forms was the only reason Jake was there. But Jake says it was all a ruse to distract Weiss while Jake went to the restroom to prepare.
Jake Nolan: I grabbed the sledgehammer. I put the knife in my pocket. From here on out, it’s — it’s — I remember bits and pieces.
But according to Michael Weiss’ attorney, Weiss remembers it all too well.
Roland Acevedo: Jake came out of the bathroom in Michael’s office and hit him with a sledgehammer.
Weiss managed to duck just in time, missing the full brunt of the 10-pound tool. Still, the sledgehammer made contact with his shoulder. That’s when Weiss says Jake reached for the knife.
Jake Nolan: That’s when I first stab Michael Weiss. And then from there on out, it was just — it was a fight.
Roland Acevedo: He stabbed Michael seven or eight times in various places — the stomach, the back, the chest.
Weiss, who is 6’3″ and 205 pounds, managed to overpower Jake.
Jake Nolan: On the ground, standing up. You know, I got stabbed multiple times. I thought that someone was bound to die.
The two men stumbled into the hallway where neighbors heard the commotion:
911 OPERATOR: 911, where’s emergency?
CALLER: There’s a guy screaming like crazy for help. I think it’s a psychologist who might have had a client who went nuts.
911 OPERATOR: Good morning, Manhattan caller. … Patient breathing?
CALLER: Yeah, but they got a lot of blood, they are losing a lot of blood.
Then, as he sat on the floor bleeding, Jake lifted his cell phone and took that selfie.
Nolan defense team
Rebecca Rosenberg: What was so odd about this is he didn’t try to flee … Jake Nolan starts snapping selfies of himself covered in blood. … I mean, who would possibly snap a selfie right after they tried to murder someone?
Peter Van Sant: Why did you take a selfie?
Jake Nolan: You know, we were sitting right next to each other. And I was reporting back to Pamela. Like, “What do I do next?”
Jake says Buchbinder didn’t respond. A short time later at the hospital, Jake tried texting her again.
Peter Van Sant (reading text aloud to Jake): This is what you wrote. “In hospital. Please come. Michael bleeding badly. Same. I walked into office. He stabbed me with my knife. In the heart.”
This time, Buchbinder answered with a single word: “Where?”
Jake Nolan: There was no plan for after the attack. I think it was Pamela’s plan to just dismiss me, and, like, “Oh, well, he tried to kill him. He lost. You know — try again later.” I really believe it’s her plan to try again later.
Hospital records say Jake was in a manic state after the attack. Buchbinder eventually showed up at the ER but was not allowed to see Jake.
Jake Nolan: I was in full-blown psychotic episode. I was heavily medicated on morphine.
Michael Weiss suffered multiple cuts to his upper torso and legs. He was stitched up and released from the hospital. Jake was still recovering from his own wounds to his chest and hand when the reality of his arrest for attempted murder hit him.
A RISKY DEFENSE
After his arrest for attempted murder, Jake Nolan spent four days recovering in the hospital. He then appeared before a judge and was freed on $200,000 bail pending trial. Nolan was allowed to fly home to live with his parents outside of Miami.
Peter Van Sant: What would you have said to Calder one day, if he asked you, ‘Why did you kill my father?’”
Jake Nolan: I don’t know. … I gave everything for this child. I was willing to kill someone for this child. That alone can only show how sorry I feel when he finds out about this later on in life.
But what of Pamela Buchbinder? Soon after the attack, Michael sued for custody of their son, claming Pamela was the mastermind. A family court judge considered the evidence in that case, including the Home Depot images, and granted Michael Weiss full custody of Calder and barred Pamela from any contact for five years.
Roland Acevedo: The evidence showed, and the family court agreed, that Pamela was involved in the plan or plot to attack and kill Michael.
Despite the evidence presented in family court – Pamela was still not criminally charged in the attack. Why not? The district attorney’s office would not comment. But Michael Weiss’ attorney thinks part of the problem is the key accuser in this case.
Roland Acevedo: Jacob, because he contends that he has this history of mental illness, is perhaps not the most reliable witness for the prosecution.
Jake spent much of his time awaiting trial in and out of treatment centers for both his mental problems and drug and alcohol addictions. Despite those efforts, his life almost came to a tragic end in May 2015.
Peter Van Sant (holding photo): What happened that caused you to be in this hospital bed?
Jake Nolan: I tried to kill myself. I tried to take my own life.
This time, Jake ended up in a coma after poisoning himself.
Debbie Nolan: This was probably the worst day of my life … Because they told us they didn’t think Jake was going to make it.
Finally, in March 2016, three-and-a-half years after the attack, Jake’s trial gets underway in New York.
Rebecca Rosenberg | Reporter: The prosecution portrayed Jake as kind of a spoiled rich kid.
It was just one of many challenges for the defense.
Rebecca Rosenberg: Jake Nolan was a very unreliable narrator of this event.
For one thing, it wasn’t until weeks after the attack that Jake claimed Pamela had manipulated him. Another problem —
Rebecca Rosenberg: He gave at least three different versions of what happened … Each was meant to cast him in the most innocent light possible.
In one version, Jake tried to put the blame on Michael Weiss.
Rebecca Rosenberg: When the first responders showed up, he immediately pointed the finger at Dr. Weiss and said, “He stabbed me.”
In another account, Jake told investigators he never swung the sledgehammer.
Jake Nolan: This was a big hammer. I couldn’t even lift the thing up.
Jake claims he’d only brought the sledgehammer and knife because he was afraid of Weiss Perhaps most stunning of all — a third version.
Rebecca Rosenberg: He claims that Dr. Weiss pulled the sledgehammer out of his bag and attacked him first with it. So that really doesn’t make any sense. I mean, how would Dr. Weiss even know that the sledgehammer’s in the bag?
Jake has said he had been convinced the attack on Weiss was the only way to save Calder. But at trial, prosecutors hinted at another motive. Michael Weiss had taken out a $1.5 million life insurance policy.
Roland Acevedo: The beneficiary was his son who, probably at the time, was 3 or 4 years old.
But there was a catch. Just three days before the attack, Weiss agreed to make Pamela the policy’s irrevocable trustee.
Peter Van Sant: What does that mean in English?
Roland Acevedo: Irrevocable means can’t be taken back.
Peter Van Sant: So, if Michael dies —
Roland Acevedo: If Michael passed away, the child would get the $1.5 million. But she would be the person that controlled the money for the child.
Jake insisted he had no clue before the attack that money may have been involved.
Jake Nolan: I had no idea. Pamela never mentioned that to me.
But the most damning evidence came from Jake himself. The prosecution’s psychiatrist interviewed Jake before trial and clips from the exam were played to jurors. In one, a shockingly frank discussion about another item Pamela bought at Home Depot.
Dr. Hershberger: What were the zip ties for?
Jake Nolan: She wanted me to like torture Michael, um, which I didn’t tell her, but I wasn’t down to do that.
Dr. Hershberger: So you were down to kill, but not torture.
Jake Nolan: Yeah.
Dr. Hershberger: OK. What did she want you to do to him to torture him?
Jake Nolan: She wanted me to cut off his b—s, she said.
Dr. Hershberger: That was a line too far for you?
Jake Nolan: Yeah.
Dr. Hershberger: How come?
Jake Nolan: I don’t know. I’d never hurt anyone before.
The prosecution saw this as a stunning admission. On tape at least, it appears Jake was a willing participant in planning the attack and could draw a line when he wanted to.
Rebecca Rosenberg: The crux of the prosecution’s argument here is that … This is not some babbling idiot that didn’t know which way was up.
Jake Nolan: I think I was in control— up to a degree. But the deal was to kill Michael Weiss. The deal wasn’t to torture Michael Weiss.
It might seem like Jake is splitting hairs, but one of Jake’s lawyers, Steven Brounstein, says that’s exactly how Jake’s mind was working. In fact, it’s why he and his legal team argue a risky defense – “diminished capacity.”
Steven Brounstein: You’re gonna have to admit that your client did the crime. But his capacity to establish the intent, the motive to commit that crime, he lacked. And therefore, should be found not guilty.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: I understand that the prosecution feels that clearly Jake never had a gun to his head. … In my opinion, psychologically speaking, he did.
Dr. Sasha Bardey, who testified for the defense at trial, says Pamela had replaced Jake’s free will with her own.
Dr. Sasha Bardey: It’s very much like a cult where there is a shaping of the person’s thought processes to meet the cult’s ideals. … It’s a small cult. It has two people in it. There’s the cult leader, Pamela Buchbinder, and the cult member, Jake Nolan.
Jake never takes the stand. Pamela Buchbinder never even set foot in the courtroom. Neither side called her to testify.
In March 2016, after a two-week trial, the jury began its deliberations. In less than an hour —
Jim Nolan: The jury comes back. “We have reached a verdict. Guilty.”
John Marshall Mantel
Guilty of attempted murder.
Jake Nolan: It’s unjust. I’m no harm to society.
And a little over three months later, the judge describes the attack as “an act of extreme brutality and violence” and sentences Jake Nolan to nine-and-a-half years in prison.
Debbie Nolan: You’re in just such shock.
James Nolan: It was like somebody just crushed me from top to bottom, just totally took my heart right out of me.
And what of Michael Weiss? The man Jake Nolan would have killed if the murder plot had succeeded?
Roland Acevedo: He’s been traumatized by all this.
Jake Nolan: I know what I did was very serious. … But there is also another party that needs to take responsibility, too.
Peter Van Sant: And that person is?
Jake Nolan: Pamela Buchbinder.
And her role in this sordid case is about to take a dramatic turn.
A NEW DEVELOPMENT
Pamela Buchbinder, the most talked about woman during Jake Nolan’s trial, had always managed to elude the public. But “48 Hours” caught up with Buchbinder about four months after Nolan was sentenced.
Peter Van Sant: I have a simple question. Why did you buy that sledgehammer?
Attorney: You know what –
Peter Van Sant: You can answer that question. Were you going to do some home improvement? Or were you buying a murder weapon?
Attorney (puts her hand up to block camera lens): Out of her face!
Gilad Thaler | CBS News cameraman: You can’t touch my camera!
Attorney: I can touch your camera — get it out of her face!
Peter Van Sant: Pamela, you can answer that question.
But, on October 19, 2017, almost five years after Michael Weiss was attacked, the law finally caught up with Dr. Pamela Buchbinder.
Buchbinder was arrested at a friend’s house outside Syracuse, New York. She was charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree attempted assault. The Manhattan district attorney accused Buchbinder of masterminding the plot to send Jake Nolan to murder her ex-boyfriend—and the father of her son—Michael Weiss.
PAMELA BUCHBINDER (to reporters outside the courthouse): My name is Pamela and I’m not guilty.
At the time, Jake Nolan would not comment on Pamela Buchbinder’s arrest, but Michael Weiss’s attorney did.
Roland Acevedo: I was not surprised when she was indicted and arrested. The prosecutor’s office said months ago during the Nolan trial that they thought she was involved. And I think the evidence against her is significant.
Pamela Buchbinder hired two top New York defense attorneys, Ronald Fishetti and Eric Franz.
RONALD FISHETTI (to reporters): Pamela is innocent. I’m telling you that.
ERIC FRANZ (to reporters): Pamela Buchbinder had nothing to do with that.
They say that video of Pamela buying that sledgehammer is just a sideshow.
Eric Franz: Pamela Buchbinder is an educated psychiatrist not Wile E. Coyote. OK? She didn’t plan to orchestrate a murder with a sledgehammer that the man couldn’t pick up.
Buchbinder’s attorneys argued before two judges that their client should be granted bail, and her family offered to put up a $1.5 million bond to guarantee she wouldn’t run off. This, despite the fact that when she was arrested, she had in her possession, her passport, birth certificate and her son Calder’s expired passport.
Eric Franz: The entire world … has fallen on this woman periodically, methodically over the last five years. And what did she do? She engaged counsel, she engaged a bondsman; she stayed around and made no attempts to flee.
Her attorneys contend that the case has essentially been solved, and that Jake Nolan is the sole perpetrator.
Ron Fischetti: He admitted everything.
Peter Van Sant: When you walked into Dr. Michael Weiss’ office with that duffle bag, with the weapons that were inside, what did you intend to do?
Jake Nolan: You know, I intended to kill him.
Buchbinder’s legal team later pointed to what they say is an incriminating new piece of evidence found buried in their legal file — a note allegedly written by Jake Nolan to his mother Debbie after the attack in 2012 as he recovered in the hospital. It reads: “Pamela has nothing to do with this.”
Eric Franz: This man acted completely on his own. … So, it’s a very, very crucial piece of evidence.
Remember, Jake’s defense team said he wrote this letter while he was in what his doctors called a “manic state” and heavily medicated.
Roland Acecedo: That note … probably can’t be admitted into evidence in any event because it’s hearsay.
After the judge heard these arguments, he refused to grant Pamela Buchbinder bail. She was ordered held in New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail, where she remained for five years, through legal wrangling and the pandemic. Then, on September 7, 2022, in a pre-trial hearing, she made a stunning announcement. She accepted a deal to spend 11 years in prison, in exchange for pleading guilty to attempted assault and a lesser charge in connection with Dr. Weiss’s attack, seemingly bringing her case to a close.
But just one month later, Pamela turned her routine sentencing on its head, with her lawyers telling Judge Farber that she wanted to withdraw her plea. She claimed on the day she agreed to the deal, she was exposed to Mace on Rikers Island, she did not take her medication, and she inadvertently got a contact high when someone was smoking drugs on her bus ride to court.
But Judge Thomas Farber would have none of it. He ordered the plea deal to stand, and the sentencing to continue.
Dr. Weiss showed up to make a victim’s impact statement. He did not want to be recorded while he read his remarks, telling the court that he suffers from “PTSD,” and that he believes Buchbinder has so much “hatred” for him, that she will “do anything in her power to harm” him, even after she is released from prison.
Prosecutor Joel Seidemann was next, and he did not hold back.
DA JOEL SEIDEMANN: I think it’s necessary to make the record … the defendant tried to have Dr. Michael Weiss murdered. … She hated his guts. She sought to destroy him because of their failed relationship. She stood to control $1.5 million in life insurance on his life in the name of his son.
Buchbinder’s attorney had heard enough.
ERIC FRANZ: Objection, Your Honor. It’s nothing to do with the underlying allegations in this case. It’s a sentencing, not a lynching.
JUDGE FARBER: I understand, Mr. — Mr. Franz, but I don’t control what the DA says at sentencing.
And Seidemann kept going.
DA JOEL SEIDEMANN: She’s on video. All of her genius in terms of academic genius didn’t mean that she could outwit the NYPD, who immediately went to Home Depot when they saw the sledgehammer. And they knew where it came from. And she sent Jacob Nolan with a map.
Buchbinder’s lawyer finally had his chance to speak.
ERIC FRANZ: Well, that was a rather unpleasant experience following a negotiated disposition. …The bottom line is her pleading guilty is not a license to step on her throat (stomps) and just say whatever you want … That’s an injustice. She stands ready for sentence, Your Honor.
JUDGE FARBER: Ms. Buchbinder, you can speak if you wish to, you don’t have to.
She was brief.
PAMELA BUCHBINDER: If there was one true statement Mr. Seidemann said, I missed it.
Judge Farber had the final say.
JUDGE FARBER: There can be no doubt that if you plot to bash somebody’s head in with a sledgehammer that the intent is to cause his death.
He then reminded everyone that he presided over Jacob Nolan’s trial back in 2017.
JUDGE FARBER The compelling and powerful evidence at that trial supported Mr. Nolan’s account that Ms. Buchbinder planned to brutally murder Dr. Weiss.
Farber then sentenced Buchbinder to serve 11 years in prison, and he also issued an order of protection for Dr. Weiss.
And just before officers took Buchbinder away, she turned to her family and friends, who blew kisses at her.
Defense attorney Monica Nejathaim says that in 2027, Pamela Buchbinder will be free to start her life over – and even reach out to her son.
Monica Nejathaim: There is no question about her love for her son.
Produced by Clare Friedland, Susan Mallie and Chris Young Ritzen. Ryan Smith is the field producer. Mead Stone is the producer-editor. Doreen Schechter, Diana Modica and Joan Adelman are the editors. Judy Tygard is the senior producer. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.