Man ruled competent to be tried in deaths

Father accused of killing daughters, ages 2 and 4

Father ruled competent to be tried in girls' deaths

October 09, 2002|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A Columbia banker accused in June of killing his two young daughters before trying to hang himself has been found competent to stand trial.

The murder case against Robert Emmett Filippi had been in a legal limbo since state psychiatrists, who evaluated him after his arrest in the strangulation deaths of 4-year-old Nicole Filippi and her 2-year-old sister, Lindsey, determined that he was incompetent.

But his status recently changed, Howard Circuit Judge Diane O. Leasure told lawyers yesterday during a brief hearing to discuss Filippi's pending divorce from the girls' mother, Naoko Nakajima.

"We do not accept that ruling," Filippi's lawyer, James B. Kraft, said after the hearing. Kraft said he is having Filippi independently evaluated by a psychiatrist and might contest the state evaluator's findings. "They may believe he's competent, but I certainly do not believe he's competent."

A status conference in the murder case is scheduled for Oct. 17.

Filippi, 44, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder after investigators called to his Harmel Drive house June 9 found the girls in an upstairs bed with ropes around their necks. Police also found Filippi sitting at a kitchen table with rope marks on his neck and hemorrhages consistent with an attempt to hang himself all over his scalp.

Filippi and Nakajima were divorcing at the time of the girls' deaths, and Filippi feared that his estranged wife would take their children back to her native Japan, lawyers said at the time of the killings.

During yesterday's hearing, lawyers said they are nearing an agreement in the divorce case. The couple's assets were frozen in August and will remain that way while the two sides continue to work out their differences.

Nakajima's lawyer, William G. Salmond, said yesterday that he was happy to hear of the competency finding.

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