The attorney for a New Milford man accused of attempted murder said Tuesday that Neil Fergus was insane when he attacked his estranged wife with a knife outside her home on Cortland Drive.

Attorney Martin Minnella, of Waterbury, made the comments after a hearing in state Superior Court in Litchfield, where Mr. Fergus faces charges including attempted murder in connection with the assault, which occurred within view of two of the couple's children last November.

Mr. Minnella told Judge James Ginocchio and

Litchfield State's Attorney David Shepack he is awaiting reports from two psychiatrists who examined his client.

At that point, Mr. Fergus could change his plea from "not guilty" to "not guilty by reason of insanity."

Once those reports have been filed with the court, the prosecution will have the option of having its own doctor examine Mr. Fergus, Mr. Minnella said.

Mr. Fergus is accused of stabbing Catherine Fergus outside her home on Nov. 14, 2009. New Milford police said he went there after his wife filed a complaint accusing him of making repeated, harassing telephone calls.

The couple was in the process of a divorce.

After finding her in the family car that also held their two sons, police said, Mr. Fergus opened the car door and stabbed his wife several times in the upper back and right arm.

She escaped and ran into her house, according to police, who said Mr. Fergus followed her, broke in and threw his 71-year-old mother-in-law to the floor in his pursuit. He was waiting outside when officers arrived.

Mr. Fergus also faces multiple charge stemming from the November assault and previous incidents involving his estranged wife, including home invasion, third-degree assault on a person over the age of 60, burglary, two counts of risk of injury to a minor and violation of a protective order.

He is being held on $1 million bond and is due back in court July 27.