Jury indicts man in deaths

Banker, 44, is accused in killing of two daughters

In midst of divorce dispute

Evaluation finds Filippi incompetent to stand trial

Columbia

August 01, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

Robert Emmett Filippi, the Columbia banker accused in the killing of his two preschool-age daughters in June, was indicted on murder charges yesterday - just days after court officials received a psychiatric report that found him incompetent to stand trial.

A Howard County grand jury returned the indictment, which charges two counts of first-degree murder, against Filippi, 44, in the strangling of 4-year-old Nicole Filippi and 2-year-old Lindsey. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of death.

Filippi was in the midst of a divorce and custody dispute with his estranged wife, Naoko Nakajima, at the time he was arrested.

Shortly after Filippi called authorities to his house June 9, they found his daughters in bed together with ropes around their necks. A piece of wood investigators believe was used to tighten the ropes was found near their bodies, police said.

Investigators found Filippi, who worked for a World Bank affiliate, seated at the kitchen table in his Harmel Drive home. He had rope marks on his neck consistent with an attempt to hang himself, a prosecutor said.

The girls were pronounced dead at Howard County General Hospital.

At a District Court hearing June 10, Judge Pamila J. Brown noted concerns about Filippi's mental state and ordered an evaluation at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

That evaluation, which was sealed by the court this week, says that Filippi "remains incompetent," said attorney James B. Kraft, who is handling the criminal case and the divorce case for Filippi.

Kraft would not elaborate, and prosecutors said they could not comment on the document because it has been sealed.

Court officials familiar with competency proceedings said doctors at Perkins likely will continue to observe Filippi, who is still confined there, for changes in his status and report to the court.

A person can be found incompetent to stand trial based on two factors - a lack of understanding about the court proceedings or an inability to "assist in one's defense," according to state law.

It was unclear yesterday which factor was mentioned in the finding. Also unclear yesterday was how the finding would affect divorce proceedings between Filippi and Nakajima.

A hearing on two motions - one from Nakajima asking Howard Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure to freeze the couple's assets so Filippi cannot use them in his defense and another from Filippi asking the court to stay all proceedings in the case - is set for tomorrow.

Nakajima's lawyer, William Salmond, did not return a call seeking comment yesterday.

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