McLean's lawyers seek 3-month delay of trial, citing continued risk of suicide

May 27, 1994|By JoAnna Daemmrich | JoAnna Daemmrich,Sun Staff Writer

Citing her continued psychiatric hospitalization for severe depression, lawyers for indicted Baltimore Comptroller Jacqueline F. McLean yesterday requested a three-month delay of her June trial on theft and misconduct charges.

Mrs. McLean's attorney, M. Cristina Gutierrez, also filed a sealed response to the state prosecutor's request to have an independent psychiatrist determine whether the comptroller can stand trial.

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge will hear arguments on the issue this afternoon.

"We're saying there's no authority for the state to request such an evaluation," Ms. Gutierrez said after filing the motions with Judge Joseph P. McCurdy Jr.

One asks the courts to keep the McLean file sealed, while another requests a delay of the June 8 trial until after Sept. 1.

Last week, Maryland's special prosecutor asked the courts to appoint a psychiatrist to examine Mrs. McLean because she has spent most of the past four months at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson.

The 50-year-old comptroller went on an indefinite leave of absence in December amid allegations that she pocketed more than $25,000 by having a fictitious employee on her payroll. She also is accused of trying to arrange a lucrative city lease of the former headquarters of her travel agency. Her annual $53,000 salary is being held in escrow.

Her psychiatrist, Dr. Dennis Kutzer, has said she suffers from chronic depression that worsened last summer. Under the strain of the criminal investigation, Mrs. McLean was admitted to Sheppard Pratt at the end of January. She was released Feb. 17 to a day program but readmitted eight days later when a city grand jury accused her of misconduct and felony theft.

On the night of April 14, a week after being released again from Sheppard Pratt, Mrs. McLean attempted suicide with a near-fatal overdose of prescription pills and alcohol. She returned to Sheppard Pratt, but remains despondent and at risk of suicide, her attorney said.

Her lawyers have negotiated at least a 60-day extension for her to remain under psychiatric care. It is unclear how the hospitalization is being covered because Mrs. McLean's city medical benefits have run out.

"Essentially, we asked for the continuance for medical reasons," Ms. Gutierrez said. "She is still deemed to be acutely suicidal."

State Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli declined to comment on the motions because he had just received them.

In his motion filed last Friday, Mr. Montanarelli said the comptroller was diagnosed as having a "narcissistic personality disorder accompanied by severe depression with psychotic features."

Dr. Kutzer took issue with the statement, saying that almost all politicians suffer from narcissistic personality traits and that he was treating Mrs. McLean for depression.

Mrs. McLean initially was scheduled to be arraigned on the charges in late March, but failed to show up because of her fragile emotional state. Her attorneys entered an innocent plea and attempted to work out an arrangement with the prosecutor to spare her jail time. However, no plea bargain was reached, prompting two other court dates to be called off.

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