Psychiatrists see Sims as `dangerous'

But mental disorder means he can't stand trial, state doctors say

Hearing set for March

Man `should go to jail,' says aunt of 15-year-old fatally shot in July

February 23, 1999|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

State psychiatrists said yesterday that Albert Sims, the 78-year-old accused of gunning down a neighborhood boy last summer in East Baltimore, suffers from a mental disorder and cannot stand trial.

A hearing is scheduled for late next month to determine if Sims is a danger to society.

Sims could end up at the state's prison for the mentally impaired, in a nursing home or released on bail until it is determined that he can be tried, said Mitchell A. Greenberg, his attorney.

Greenberg said his client suffers from organic brain damage that went undetected until this incident.

"Basically, he's not in good shape," Greenberg said. "If your whole life is a routine, you develop ways to cope with it."

Family members of the dead youth -- Jermaine Jordan, 15 -- had been preparing for Sims' trial when they heard news of the ruling last night.

"I think he should go to jail ," said Veronica Williams, Jordan's aunt. "I was afraid this was going to happen. They're basing it on his age. We were hoping that justice would be served."

Sims was the lone occupant of the 1600 block of Llewelyn Ave., a block where all the other houses had been condemned or residents had fled because of crime.

On the night of July 5, after his house had been broken into several times, Sims fired two shots when a group of neighborhood youths threw a brick at his new Cadillac.

Jordan, who was shot in the back, had been sent to Georgia military school by his parents to escape the dangers of the city.

The case is similar to a 1994 East Baltimore case in which retired steel worker Nathaniel Hurt fatally shot a 13-year-old boy who was with a group of children vandalizing Hurt's car. Gov. Parris N. Glendening commuted the 65-year-old man's five-year prison sentence in December after he had served 14 months.

Last week, Sims told psychiatrists at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup that the police officers who arrested him were "soldiers actin' as police, telling lies about me," according to the doctors' report.

The doctors had to repeat questions several times because Sims has hearing problems.

During the interview, Sims became agitated and doctors decided he was dangerous.

"Mr. Sims is considered dangerous given his charges and limited insight into his behavior," the report says.

In a different evaluation in October, conducted for the defense, Sims told the psychiatrist that he did not mean to shoot anyone that night.

He said he grabbed a gun to try to "hold" the boys until police came.

Then he fired two warning shots -- one ricocheted and hit one of them, he said.

"I didn't intend to shoot or kill anyone," he told the psychiatrist. Sims said he was "sorry that it happened and the boy died, but it was just one of those things."

Pub Date: 2/23/99

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