Smith To Plead Guilty But Not Criminally Responsible In Killing

November 22, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

A 19-year-old Selby man, who told police he murdered his father because he thought his father was the devil, has been declared insane.

Over the past year, psychiatrists and psychologists from the CliftonT. Perkins Hospital Center have changed their minds about Robert James Smith, who today will plead guilty but not criminally responsible in the March 1990 slaying of his father.

When Smith's case went to court last November, Perkins officials said he was faking his mental illness. That opinion was opposed by a psychiatrist who described Smith as an example of someone whose latent psychosis was brought out by drug use.

Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams last year ruled Smith mentally incompetent to stand trial. Since then, psychiatrists have continued to examine Smith.

An evaluation filed last week in Circuit Court shows Smith is unable to appreciate the criminality of his offense, prosecutor Ronald M. Naditch saidyesterday.

After Smith's plea is accepted today, Naditch said, hewill be hospitalized until he is determined to be sane.

Smith is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Charles Amos Smith. Police say Smith walked into his father's bedroom and, while his father strummed a guitar, shot him once in the head with a 30-30 rifle. Hours later, Smith told police he thought his father was the devil.

Smith's mother and brother testified last year that Smith's behaviorhad been erratic since he reported overdosing on "three dimes" of PCP in late May 1989. They said he was committed in the summer of 1989 to the Crownsville Hospital Center, and that he repeatedly claimed tobe Jesus Christ and God and began accusing others of being the devil.

In a videotape of Smith's interview in October 1990 in the county jail, he rambles and is hostile.

"You're working to damn me," Smith tells his lawyer, J. Michael Wachs, on the tape. "I'm not going to cooperate with damnation."

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