Shykind impersonated a pilot as CIA cover, he tells doctors Mental health experts testify at a competency hearing

October 27, 1998|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Timothy B. Wheeler contributed to this article.

Daniel Shykind told two mental health experts he impersonated a United Airlines pilot as a cover for his activities as a CIA spy, the doctors testified yesterday.

Shykind, 30, is the subject of a three-day hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville that will determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial on charges he bilked 14 airline employees and friends of $30,700.

UPDATE: The charges and court records were ultimately expunged.

Assistant State's Attorney Suzanne Schneider said Shykind used a pilot's uniform to help persuade people to invest in a foreign currency exchange scheme.

But two doctors hired by Shykind's lawyers described a deeply delusional man who still believes he is a secret agent and has also claimed to be a Yale-trained medical doctor, a Persian Gulf war fighter pilot and a University of Maryland instructor in celestial navigation.

For example, Shykind would disappear from his parents' Silver Spring home, claiming to be on a secret mission. He said that the four guns police found in his Bethesda apartment in December had been given to him by the CIA as protection.

"He would be hard-pressed to know when reality stopped and started," said Dr. David Pickar, of the National Institutes of Health. "He believes that most of his actions are supported by the [Central Intelligence] Agency."

Pickar said he did not think Shykind could assist his defense.

The CIA and University of Maryland have denied that Shykind worked for them.

Dr. Charles Filson, a forensic psychologist, said he asked Shykind about pictures police found in his apartment that, given Shykind's illness, "makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up."

Shykind said he had photos of Secretary of State Madeline K. Albright, the CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff because he had flown them to Yugoslavia on a secret mission.

Pub Date: 10/27/98

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