Man convicted of Mayo break-in Judge urges Lamm to seek help

September 15, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Stephen C. Lamm, who appeared barefoot for his trial yesterday and insisted that jail officials tampered with his food, was convicted of breaking into a Mayo house by a judge who said he needs mental help more than prison.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner convicted Mr. Lamm of breaking into the home of Morton Taubman, in the 1200 block of Rogers Road, after a bizarre trial in which Mr. Lamm represented himself.

Mr. Lamm also questioned whether the prosecutor was a government agent and claimed the home he broke into was one of several properties he owns.

"They drugged my food up this morning and I'm half buzzed-up because I made the mistake of eating breakfast [at the jail] this morning," said Mr. Lamm, who often slept in the woods near the Mayo community where he grew up.

Judge Lerner postponed sentencing until Oct. 15 and asked a prosecutor to see whether any mental health facilities would accept Mr. Lamm for treatment.

County detention center officials said yesterday that they do not tamper with food and that they provided Mr. Lamm with shower sandals, but he declined to wear them to court.

Assistant State's Attorney Warren W. Davis III said evaluations by Crownsville State Hospital therapists have repeatedly found Mr. Lamm competent to stand trial, a conclusion Mr. Davis called "astonishing," given Mr. Lamm's courtroom demeanor.

The gaunt, garrulous defendant has fired two public defenders and cursed three state's attorneys.

He rambled when he testified and swore aloud as he left the courtrooms.

"You need help," Judge Lerner told Mr. Lamm.

Dr. Joanna Brandt, co-director of the office of pretrial services at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital, said a defendant may exhibit unusual courtroom behavior and still meet the legal standard for competency, which is defined as being able to understand the nature of the proceedings and to assist in one's defense.

"Somebody can exhibit bizarre symptoms but still have an appreciation of what's going on around them and what it means," she said.

Mr. Davis said that Mr. Lamm must agree to enter an insanity plea in order to be treated at a state psychiatric hospital, which he refuses to do.

"It's terribly difficult to help someone who doesn't want help and repeatedly refuses it," he said.

Mr. Lamm had been convicted last summer of breaking into the home of James and Ruth Christie, also in the 1200 block of Rogers Road, on Dec. 5, 1991. The house is next door to the Taubman house. Mr. Lamm was sentenced Oct. 5, 1992, by Judge Bruce C. Williams to 18 months' probation.

When he was released last October, Mr. Lamm went back to the same Edgewater neighborhood.

The victim of the first break-in spotted him and phoned the police, according to testimony yesterday.

Mr. Christie testified that he saw Mr. Lamm walking along a road near his home Oct. 6 and called police when he saw Mr. Lamm enter a neighbor's house that was being renovated and had been left unlocked.

"My major concern was that he had broken and entered into our house on a prior incident and that he would break in again," Mr. Christie testified.

Mr. Lamm told the judge he went into the Taubman house, which since has been sold to the Christies, to get out of the rain.

"I had just gotten out of jail and I had no place to stay," he said.

Mr. Davis said state sentencing guidelines -- based on such factors as the severity of the offense and the defendant's record -- recommend a sentence of probation to three months for Mr. Lamm.

If given credit for the 11 months he's been jailed since his second arrest, Mr. Lamm would be released immediately under the guidelines, Mr. Davis said.

But Mr. Davis said that without any mandatory in-patient treatment as a condition for release, he would recommend that Mr. Lamm be "warehoused" for the three-year maximum that the misdemeanor conviction for breaking and entering carries.

"It's a tragic situation, but I have to think of the Christies," he said. "They're terrified of this guy."

Mr. Christie declined to comment yesterday.

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