Case of suspected intruder baffles lawyers, doctors

March 01, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Of the hundreds of criminal cases heard in Anne Arundel Circuit Court in the past year, the case of Stephen C. Lamm is perhaps the strangest and most puzzling.

Lamm has cursed two prosecutors, fired two public defenders, made profane courtroom speeches about being jailed illegally and insists that the house he was charged with breaking into belongs to him.

In three court appearances in the past year, one fact is clear: No one knows quite what to do with him.

Lamm, a 30-year-old from Mayo, was ordered Thursday to have yet another psychiatric evaluation to determine whether he is competent to stand trial on charges that he broke into a home about a mile from the woods where he often sleeps.

The evaluation, which is at least his third, could determine whether he is sent to jail or a mental hospital.

"It's one of those corners of the law where the attorneys want to pass him off to the medical community, and the medical community wants to pass him off to the attorneys," said Gary Christopher, one of the two public defenders Lamm has fired.

According to court records, Lamm's first major brush with the law came Dec. 5, 1991, when police were called to the home of James and Ruth Christie of the 1200 block of Rogers Road in the Beverly Beach section of Mayo.

The Christies arrived home from work about 6 p.m. to find that Lamm had entered through a back door, helped himself to their food and was in the living room, in front of their fireplace. He was charged with burglary with intent to steal at night, which carries a 20-year penalty.

After firing Mr. Christopher, Lamm represented himself in a bizarre trial last summer, where he in sisted the Christie house belonged to him, pointing out that he had gone to the trouble of carrying in a load of firewood as evidence. He asked Mr. Christie how he "actually knew" it was his house.

Circuit Judge Bruce C. Williams found Lamm guilty of breaking ** and entering, a lesser charge than burglary. At sentencing Oct. 5, the judge gave him 18 months' probation, noting that he had been in jail for almost a year by then. Judge Williams also ordered Lamm to stay away from the Christie home.

The day after his release, Mr. Christie saw Lamm walking down his street and called police.

Cpl. Samuel F. Worsham, who responded to the Christies' second call, tracked Lamm to the house next door to the Christies, where he found Lamm sleeping on a mattress on the second floor.

"He was very cooperative, didn't resist or show any hostility at all," said Corporal Worsham, a 19-year veteran assigned to the Southern District. "I kind of felt sorry for him, to tell you the truth."

Lamm was charged with storehouse breaking, a misdemeanor TTC that carries a six-month jail term and a $500 fine, and is being held on $10,000 bail.

The Christies are reluctant to discuss the case, but in brief interviews expressed concern about Lamm's welfare.

They have no idea why Lamm, who had held various jobs including scrubbing floors for $5 an hour at a fast-food restaurant, picked out their house, seems obsessed with it and insists that he owns it.

They had never met him before the night they found him in their living room.

The Mayo community where Lamm grew up is miles away from the Christies' unassuming, single-family home.

"At this point, we just hope he gets some help and hope they make sure his case isn't one that falls through the cracks," Mrs. Christie said.

Lamm's parents declined to comment.

At a court hearing Thursday on the second break-in charge, Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered the latest psychiatric evaluation after Lamm appeared in cut-off shorts, despite the 30-degree weather, and disrupted the proceedings.

In the course of a 15-minute hearing, Lamm cursed at Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III, said substances put in his food at the jail were making his gums recede, accused the public defender's office of corruption and shouted an obscenity as he was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.

Jail Superintendent Richard Baker said Lamm has not been a security or discipline problem.

In an evaluation conducted at Crownsville last summer, Lamm was found competent to stand trial based on a series of examinations that included magnetic reasonance imaging and an electroencephalogram, two tests designed to determine any biological signs of brain damage. They found none.

In a July 24 letter to the court, Dr. Kadri Mutlu, a psychiatrist at Crownsville, said Lamm had an anti-social personality and a history of marijuana, cocaine, PCP and alcohol abuse.

"He was hostile, arrogant, combative, and threatening to the staff," the letter said.

In a report last March, Dr. Brian Sims, another psychiatrist, came to the same conclusion. "He presents primarily as a playful, deliberately volatile individual who clearly stated his intentions that he was at Crownsville State Hospital to avoid being incarcerated," Dr. Sims wrote.

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