Sanity of slaying suspect questioned

April 17, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Jason Aaron DeLong, charged in the fatal stabbing of his mother and her boyfriend in Westminster in July, may have been insane at the time, a preliminary psychological evaluation says.

"It is our opinion, based on the current evaluation, that the defendant was possibly not responsible for his actions due to mental illness which impaired his ability to conform his conduct to the requisites of law ," two psychiatrists wrote in an April 1 evaluation of Mr. DeLong.

The sealed report, obtained by The Sun last week, recommended that the 19-year-old Westminster man undergo a more complete evaluation, which he did last week at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center. Doctors there have not completed their report of that examination.

Although psychiatrists concluded that Mr. DeLong might have been insane at the time of his mother's death, they said he is now able to stand trial.

"Jason Aaron DeLong adequately understands the nature and the object of the proceedings against him," the preliminary evaluation says. "It is our opinion that Jason DeLong is competent to stand trial."

Those conclusions were surprising to Luther C. West, one of Mr. DeLong's lawyers.

"Frankly, I thought the results would be just the opposite," the Baltimore lawyer said. "Our expert said that he is ready to snap at any minute now."

Mr. DeLong, 19, and his girlfriend, Sara E. Citroni, 17, were charged with first-degree murder in the July 29 stabbing deaths of Mr. DeLong's mother, Cathryn Brace Farrar, and her boyfriend, George William Wahl.

Westminster police discovered the bodies Aug. 2 in Ms. Farrar's Bishop's Garth apartment. Ms. Farrar, 39, a nurse's aide, had been stabbed more than 80 times. Mr. Wahl, 35, a brother-in-law of Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, had more than 40 wounds.

Mr. DeLong and Ms. Citroni were arrested in South Florida days later.

Both have entered insanity pleas and have been evaluated by doctors at Perkins. Ms. Citroni was examined last month, but the results of both her preliminary evaluation and her extensive examination are unknown. Perkins is expected to issue its findings on both teen-agers before June 8, court records show.

In court papers and in interviews, Mr. West has said that Mr. DeLong killed his mother only after "snapping" under the cumulative weight of years of sexual abuse at the hands of Ms. Farrar. Ms. Farrar's relatives have disputed that contention, but Mr. West said the case is a classic example of the battered child syndrome, in which a child kills a parent in self-defense after years of physical and emotional abuse.

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. Doory, who is prosecuting the cases because of Mr. Hickman's relationship to Mr. Wahl, said last week that he could not comment "one way or the other" on the preliminary findings about Mr. DeLong's mental health.

Ms. Citroni entered her insanity plea Jan. 19, about a week before Mr. DeLong entered his. Her lawyer, Carroll Assistant Public Defender Brian Green, said his client suffered a "psychotic episode" while incarcerated at the Carroll County Detention Center. He said that she, too, was insane at the time of the killings.

Mr. Green declined to comment on Mr. DeLong's evaluation and said he had not seen any evaluation of Ms. Citroni.

The full psychological evaluations of both defendants likely will be made public during a pretrial motions hearing July 8 before Carroll Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., who would make the decision on whether the teens are competent to stand trial.

Prosecutors are seeking to try the cases together beginning Aug. 15, but defense attorneys are arguing to have the defendants tried separately.

Ms. Citroni and Mr. DeLong have been charged as adults with two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, stabbing with intent to maim and conspiracy to each of those counts. Prosecutors are seeking sentences of life without the possibility of parole.

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