On Oct. 11, 2022, Manhattan psychiatrist Pamela Buchbinder was sentenced to 11 years in prison after admitting her guilt in connection with one of the most bizarre crime stories in New York City history — the brutal and nearly fatal 2012 attack on her ex-lover and the father of her child, Dr. Michael Weiss.
According to authorities, the assault on Weiss in his Manhattan office was the climax of an epic “War of the Roses” battle between two extremely well-educated and respected psychiatrists. “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant exclusively reports in “The Psychiatrist and The Selfie,” airing Saturday 9/8c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.
What made the crime even more astonishing, according to Van Sant, was the fact that the alleged “hit man” turned out to be Buchbinder’s troubled young cousin, Jacob Nolan, who claimed that Buchbinder had manipulated him into carrying out the murder for her.
Back in 2012, Buchbinder and Weiss were going through a bitter custody battle over their son, Calder, then 4 years old, and fighting over visitation. Yet, despite their arguing, it turned out Weiss took out a $1.5 million life insurance policy for his son, and gave his mother, Buchbinder, control in the event of Weiss’s death, starting on Nov. 9, 2012.
Jake Nolan and and Dr. Pamela Buchbinder
By then, authorities said, Buchbinder allegedly had taken her bipolar cousin under her wing, seemingly to help him deal with his mental health and drug and alcohol issues. But instead of healing Nolan, the son of a wealthy real estate investor, authorities claimed Buchbinder slowly brainwashed and weaponized him into carrying out the hit.
Buchbinder accompanied Nolan to a local Home Depot on Nov. 11, 2012, where they purchased a sledgehammer, according to authorities. And the following day, Nolan took the sledgehammer and a knife Weiss had given Buchbinder as a gift, and used a map Buchbinder drew of Weiss’s office to surprise him.
But the assault did not kill Weiss. Instead, the two ended up fighting in the office, with both of them left bloodied, and badly hurt.
According to prosecutors, while they waited for paramedics to arrive to take them to the hospital, Nolan snapped a selfie, which he sent to Buchbinder to show her what happened to him.
Nolan’s defense attorney, Steven Brounstein, later said that Nolan was “putty” in Buchbinder’s hand.
And at Nolan’s trial in 2016, Brounstein acknowledged Nolan committed the assault, but he argued that Buchbinder took advantage of Nolan’s fragile and submissive mental health, and therefore was not fully responsible for his actions.
Prosecutors, however, disagreed, insisting that being bipolar did not mean that Nolan did not understand what he was doing, or had been turned into a “babbling idiot who had no control over his facilities.”
In the end, a Manhattan jury took less than an hour to convict Nolan, then 23, and he was sentenced to more than nine years in prison. But his conviction did not end speculation that his older psychiatrist cousin was also responsible for the brutal assault.
In 2017, prosecutors eventually charged Buchbinder in connection with the attack, and she then spent five years on Rikers Island as her lawyers wrangled over the case and the courts were shut down due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, her high-powered lawyers, Ronald Fishetti, Eric Franz and Monica Nejathaim, claimed Buchbinder was not only innocent, but there were legitimate explanations about her relationship with Nolan, and the evidence against her.
But last September, Buchbinder — looking rail-thin and gaunt — surprised the court by announcing she had reached a deal with prosecutors, and she pleaded guilty to lesser charges in exchange for 11 years in prison.
A month later, however, when she showed up for her routine sentencing, Buchbinder stunned the court again – this time saying she wanted to withdraw her plea. She claimed that on the day she pleaded guilty, she was exposed to mace on Rikers Island, did not take her medication, and inadvertently got a contact high when someone was smoking drugs on her bus ride to court.
Judge Thomas Farber, however, rejected her argument, and continued the sentencing, with Weiss then reading a victim’s impact statement in which he laid out how the attack left him with PTSD, and a fear that Buchbinder’s hatred for him will continue even after she is released from prison.
Then, Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Joel Seidemann took to the podium.
“I think it’s necessary to make the record straight,” Seidemann began. “The defendant tried to have Dr. Michael Weiss murdered … she hated his guts.”
“She sought to destroy him because of their failed relationship,” he continued. “She stood to control $1.5 million in life insurance on his life in the name of his son.”
Buchbinder responded succinctly. “If there was one true statement Mr. Seidemann said, I missed it,” she said.
In 2017, Pamela Buchbinder was charged with second-degree attempted murder and first-degree attempted assault. In 2022 (pictured in center) 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. Murray Weiss
Finally, Farber sentenced Buchbinder to 11 years and issued an order of protection, but not before he had his say.
“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,” the judge said.
Outside court after Buchbinder was led away in handcuffs, her attorneys said that with time off for good behavior, Buchbinder will be free in 2027 to start her life over, and try to re-establish her relationship with her son.