Tardy evaluation of suspect OK'd

February 16, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

The attorney for a man accused of sexually assaulting a Guilford-area woman last summer, about a month after finishing a 19-year prison sentence for rape and kidnapping, failed to block prosecutors from using a tardy psychiatric evaluation of his client yesterday.

Assistant Public Defender Avery Berdit had wanted Howard Circuit Judge James Dudley to deny a request by officials at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup for an extension of time to complete their evaluation of Thurman Alexander Moore.

Mr. Berdit charged that hospital officials were violating a state law requiring that psychiatric evaluations be completed within 60 days of their request.

Because the report was late, Mr. Berdit said, the prosecution should not be allowed to use it at Mr. Moore's trial.

"We have a clear violation of the rules," he said.

The lawyer argued that Perkins officials had known since late October that they would have to evaluate Mr. Moore, a 47-year-old Guilford man accused of forcing his way into the woman's home and attacking her Aug. 31.

Mr. Berdit noted that Perkins did not start its evaluation of his client until Jan. 22, the day the report was originally to be delivered to court officials.

The report was requested by the court after Mr. Moore, facing nine charges in connection with the attack, entered a plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

But Mr. Berdit said he must get the Perkins report well in advance of Mr. Moore's April 4 trial so that a private psychologist can review the hospital's findings to help prepare Mr. Moore's defense.

At yesterday's hearing, Judge Dudley granted Perkins' request for additional time to finish its report on Mr. Moore's psychiatric condition.

The hospital asked to have until March 14 to finish the report, but the judge insisted on having it by March 4.

While granting the extension, Judge Dudley criticized Perkins and state officials for repeated delays of psychiatric evaluations caused by insufficient funding of the hospital.

L "It's a process that is fraught with delay," the judge said.

He also called the hospital's reasons for the delay of the Moore report "self-serving."

Perkins officials had sent the court a letter explaining that storms in January and February disrupted operations for several days. They said the collection of Mr. Moore's records took a lot of time.

They added that one meeting with Mr. Moore had to be rescheduled because Mr. Moore didn't bring his glasses.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell also defended Perkins' handling of the Moore case. She said the evaluation would take longer because of the "small mountain" of records that Perkins doctors must review.

Ms. O'Donnell added that the only reason Perkins is conducting an evaluation of Mr. Moore is because his attorneys entered the insanity plea on his behalf. "What I think the defense is trying to do is to hogtie the state into having no other recourse," Ms. O'Donnell said.

Mr. Moore is scheduled to have two trials -- one to determine whether he is guilty or innocent and another to determine if he is criminally responsible for the incident. The same jury will sit on both trials.

Mr. Moore is accused of beating and sexually assaulting the woman in her home. The attack was thwarted by three people.

He had been released from the Patuxent Institution in July under the state's mandatory-release guidelines after serving 19 years of a 25-year prison term for the rape and kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl in Clarksville in 1974.

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