Insanity plea entered for man accused in double killing Couple were shot last year in Hampstead

September 04, 1998|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A lawyer for Smith Harper Dean III, accused in the shotgun slayings of a former girlfriend and her new boyfriend in Hampstead last year, has entered an insanity plea for his client in Howard County Circuit Court.

The single page filed Wednesday by M. Gordon Tayback, a Baltimore attorney representing Dean, stated the plea in three -- terse lines: 1. Not guilty.

2. Not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

3. Not competent to stand trial.

The case has been removed from Carroll County because of pretrial publicity, a defendant's automatic right when the state declares its intention to seek the death penalty.

Carroll County Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. rescheduled Dean's trial for Sept. 29 after the defendant attempted suicide in an isolation cell at the Carroll County Detention Center on June 10, five days before his trial was to begin.

A state police investigation concluded that Dean had hoarded his prescription medication and taken a near-lethal dose. Jail guards found him on the floor of his cell.

Dean was taken in critical condition to Carroll County General Hospital, where he was treated and transferred to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

Dean was a patient at Perkins in December, but had been returned to the Carroll County Detention Center after being evaluated and found competent to stand trial.

State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes said he would file a response to Dean's plea and seek to have the court order an evaluation of Dean and hold a competency hearing as soon as possible.

Beck is away this week. He is expected to return Tuesday.

Barnes said such evaluations can take two weeks. He said it could be completed and a hearing on competency held so the Sept. 29 trial would not need to be delayed.

Dean, 39, is charged with two counts of murder in the slayings June 14, 1997, of Sharon Lee Mechalske, 38, of Hampstead and Kent Leonard Cullison, 30, an Arcadia mail carrier who was on his second date with her.

A brother and sister-in-law of Mechalske said at the time that she had ended her relationship with Dean, a Hampstead pit beef entrepreneur, because he was possessive and jealous, and that Dean had stalked her in the days before the killings at her home on Wolf Hill Drive.

Pub Date: 9/04/98

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