Defense assertions refuted

Witnesses say Spicknall did not seem disoriented after his 2 children died

March 04, 2000|By Chris Guy | Chris Guy,SUN STAFF

CHESTERTOWN -- A half-dozen witnesses testified yesterday that a Laurel man charged with killing his two young children last fall did not appear disoriented or confused in the hours after he emerged dripping and shivering from the Choptank River.

The witnesses refuted assertions by defense lawyers that Richard Wayne Spicknall II, 27, suffered a head injury that might have prevented him from understanding his rights when he admitted killing the two youngsters in September.

Spicknall's legal team has argued in two court hearings this week that Talbot County officials deliberately prevented a private neuropsychiatrist from examining Spicknall for nearly a week after his arrest in the deaths of Destiny Array Spicknall, 3, and Richard Wayne Spicknall III, 2.

The specialist, Dr. David A. Williamson, testified yesterday that he believes Spicknall suffered a concussion, but the weeklong delay before his examination precludes certainty. Extensive tests conducted more than a week after his arrest showed no signs of damage to the brain, Williamson said.

Prosecution witness Richard Restak, a neurologist and psychiatrist specializing in concussions, said the testimony of witnesses who saw and talked to Spicknall in the hours after the children were killed offered nothing to indicate that he showed signs of a brain injury.

"This wasn't a picture of someone who was confused," Restak said.

At first, Spicknall told police an armed hitchhiker threw him into the Choptank River from the 70-foot-high U.S. 50 bridge, then sped away in a Jeep with the two children in the back seat.

Later, under questioning by state police investigators, he admitted the killings. He has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

A state police officer and a paramedic who were among the first on the scene testified that Spicknall appeared to be lucid and free from serious injury.

Circuit Court Judge J. Frederick Price set March 15 as the date for continuing the hearing, which has taken two days. The judge said the trial will likely begin in May.

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