Man, 39, guilty, not criminally responsible in woman's death

January 31, 2002|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County judge convicted a Woodlawn man of first-degree murder yesterday for fatally stabbing his disabled girlfriend after an argument over a cracked window in the apartment they shared.

Circuit Judge John O. Hennegan also ruled that Lamont Gregory Rice, 39, is so mentally ill that he is not criminally responsible for the Sept. 24, 1996, death of Kim Markita James, 31. The couple lived in the 3100 block of Woodford Place.

Rice has been held at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center since 1996 based on findings by hospital therapists that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Rice was convicted after therapists at Perkins found him competent to stand trial and a police detective testified that Rice confessed.

Detective Milton Duckworth testified Tuesday that Rice and James had lived together for two months when James asked Rice to have a cracked window repaired while she was at work.

James, who used a wheelchair, began arguing with Rice when she returned home from work that afternoon and the window wasn't fixed, Duckworth testified.

Rice stabbed James 12 times with a steak knife, Duckworth said.

Rice seemed coherent to Duckworth and told him that he wouldn't need an attorney.

"He said he didn't want an attorney, that Jesus would be his attorney," Duckworth testified.

Hennegan's ruling on Rice's mental state was based on reports by defense therapists who found that Rice has suffered from delusions since 1992, when he was struck on the head and knocked unconscious during an assault in Baltimore.

Sally C. Chester, an assistant public defender who represented Rice, said her client spent several months at Sinai Hospital relearning how to talk.

Chester said Rice would be confined to Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center until psychiatrists determine that he is no longer a danger.

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