Insanity plea accepted in case involving carjacking, assault

September 30, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Washington man has been found guilty, but not criminally responsible by reason of insanity, of a North Laurel carjacking that led to a high-speed chase through three states in March 1993.

A Howard Circuit Court jury deliberated about five hours before finding Christopher William Bradley guilty of six charges Wednesday night for forcing his way into the car of a Baltimore architect and fleeing to New Jersey.

The jury found Bradley, 22, guilty of robbery, assault, battery, unauthorized use of a vehicle and two counts of theft. He was found not guilty of kidnapping, the most serious charge.

After the verdict was announced, Judge Raymond Kane Jr. ruled that Bradley was not criminally responsible for the March 25, 1993, incident.

Judge Kane ordered Bradley to be sent to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where he will be held until doctors find he is no longer a threat to himself or others.

Had Bradley been held responsible for the incident, he could have been sentenced to up to 70 years in prison.

"He's a person with a mental illness, but also with a great potential," said Assistant Public Defender F. Spencer Gordon, who represented Bradley. "I'm very pleased with the disposition, which will allow him to be treated for his illness rather than punished for an incident caused by his illness."

Assistant State's Attorney Mary Reese did not contest Bradley's insanity plea after the jury delivered its verdict.

Mr. Gordon noted that evaluations by prosecution and defense experts found that Bradley should not be held criminally responsible for the carjacking.

The evaluations showed that Bradley suffers from a depressive disorder that causes him to lapse into psychotic episodes.

Mr. Gordon said Bradley's illness is in remission, with the help of anti-psychotic medication and regular sessions with a therapist.

On the day of the incident, Bradley was on his way to a Washington hospital where he was going to admit himself for treatment of his disorder, Mr. Gordon said.

Bradley suffered a psychotic episode that caused him to believe he had to drive to the north so that he could save the world, Mr. Gordon said in his opening statement Monday.

As he drove north on Interstate 95, Bradley's car broke down at the interchange with Route 216. He then ran into the path of a car driven by architect Jane Rohde of Baltimore.

Seeing that Bradley's car was broken down, Ms. Rohde testified, she pulled over to help him. Bradley reached in a window and demanded that Ms. Rohde give him the vehicle.

Ms. Rohde testified that she attempted to drive away, but that Bradley pulled himself into the car and into the passenger seat.

As the car sped north on I-95, Ms. Rohde persuaded Bradley to release her by offering the vehicle to him. Ms. Rohde was released at a shopping center along Wilkens Avenue, where she called police.

Bradley was spotted traveling north in Ms. Rohde's red Honda on I-95 near White Marsh in Baltimore County, where state troopers began pursuing him. He drove as fast as 100 mph during the two-hour, 80-mile chase, according to testimony.

Bradley fled through Delaware before being apprehended in Camden County, N.J., after ramming a New Jersey state police cruiser, a police officer testified.

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