State requests mental tests before man's trial in killing

Defense objects, saying suspect is innocent in stabbing of dental student

January 04, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

In a surprise move, Baltimore prosecutors asked yesterday for a psychological evaluation of a schizophrenic suspect to see if he is fit to stand trial on murder charges - over the objections of the man's lawyers.

Attorneys for David Edward Terry, charged in the stabbing in May of a dental student in Ridgely's Delight, acknowledged that their client is ill and homeless. But they said they want him to stand trial because they believe he is innocent and his name should be cleared.

"They've got the wrong man," Assistant Public Defender Charles H. Dorsey said. Prosecutors "cannot prove their case."

In most cases when a client's mental state is in question, defense attorneys would be the first to ask that the person be deemed unfit to stand trial or be found not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mental health treatment is seen by attorneys as preferable to prison.

But in this case, Assistant State's Attorney Kevin B. Urich said he wants the tests done.

He said he is concerned about Terry's mental state and worries that if the trial proceeds without looking into his mental status that a conviction could be overturned.

"It could come back on appeal," Urich said.

Circuit Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. agreed to have Terry evaluated by the court's medical office.

If the office finds that there is a question about his competency, the judge would hold a hearing to determine how to proceed.

Terry is charged with killing Christian W. Ludwig, 26, on May 20. Ludwig, who was to graduate from dental school the week he died, was stabbed in the heart when he tried to retrieve a purse stolen from a female friend who was walking to his house in Ridgely's Delight.

Ludwig and another man had chased the robber and tried to take back the purse after catching him in the 200 block of Emory St., next to the Babe Ruth Museum, police said.

Police said the robber stabbed Ludwig with a kitchen knife that had been stolen from the home where Terry most recently lived.

Yesterday, Terry told Matricciani that he had been in a mental hospital, Spring Grove Hospital Center, for about five years between 1989 and 1999.

He told the judge that at the time he had been hearing voices in his head. Terry said he is taking medication, including Haldol, an anti-psychotic medicine used to treat hallucinations.

"Do you know why we are here today?" Matricciani asked.

"To evaluate, to see if I'm guilty of a crime," Terry answered, his hands shaking behind his back. "I'm not guilty."

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