Suspect in killing found mentally unfit

Howard man committed to Perkins state hospital

March 21, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A 45-year-old Columbia man accused of stabbing a man to death during an argument over the rental of a room has been found incompetent to stand trial.

Howard County Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. committed Rodney Maurice Stanley of Long Reach to the care of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene yesterday.

Doctors at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, the state's maximum-security hospital, recently issued an evaluation that said Stanley, who is accused of killing Thomas Jefferson Harding, 32, on Aug. 17, is "not competent to stand trial and dangerous due to a mental disorder," according to court papers.

Because of the competency ruling, doctors were unable to make a recommendation about whether Stanley is criminally responsible for the killing, according to the prosecutor and Stanley's defense attorney.

Stanley will be held at the Perkins facility until he is found competent to assist in his defense on murder and assault charges, according to court papers.

In front of building

Court papers state that Stanley was standing in front of his building in the 8800 block of Roll Right Court, holding a telephone with bloody hands, when officers arrived. Inside the apartment, police found a bloody knife and Harding, who had been stabbed several times.

Stanley later told detectives that he acted in self-defense, according to court papers. A prosecutor noted during a bail hearing in October that Harding had eight stab wounds, each 6 to 7 inches deep.

Stanley said that Harding had come to his apartment after hearing that Stanley refused to rent him a room.

Identified as friends

Yesterday, a woman and her daughter who identified themselves as Stanley's friends said they don't believe he is mentally incompetent.

Fran Blue of York, Pa., said she has spoken with Stanley every day while he has been at Perkins. He just wants to go to trial, she said.

"It's not that he doesn't understand the charges. ... He knows what he did. He knows what he didn't do," she said. "This is his life we're talking about."

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