Man gets 12-year term for shooting at police

Judge also recommends psychological evaluation

April 08, 2003|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man with a history of mental problems was sentenced yesterday to 12 years in prison and recommended for possible treatment after he was convicted of shooting at two law enforcement officers last summer.

None of the shots struck either officer as they sat in an unmarked car July 30, but the incident led to a four-hour standoff involving Demarrow Antjuan Williams, 27, and officers at a city public housing project.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck recommended that Williams receive an evaluation at Patuxent Institution, the only state public safety facility geared toward treatment of mental health problems.

The role Williams' mental health issues played in the incident at the Newtowne 20 public housing complex is unclear. Evaluations have indicated that in recent years he has been prescribed a variety of medications for psychiatric disorders.

"He's smart enough to know he's got a mental health issue and he can use it whenever he wants to," Assistant State's Attorney Daniel Andrews told the judge, as he sought a lengthy prison sentence for Williams.

But Williams' lawyer pushed for psychiatric treatment for his client.

"When properly medicated, he's one of the nicest clients I've had," said defense lawyer Gill Cochran, holding a folder plump with Williams' cases. "And when he's not - he runs into difficulty."

Williams' aunt, Deborah Smith, told the judge the same thing.

Williams has received psychiatric care from four treatment centers since 1998. When he pleaded guilty in February to two counts of assault and a handgun charge stemming from last summer's shooting, he told the judge he was taking several psychiatric medications a day.

According to court records, Williams has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and antisocial personality disorder, and has used marijuana, PCP and alcohol. He also has criminal convictions dating back nearly a decade, and was on probation for property destruction when he pleaded guilty to the shooting.

Exactly why Williams decided to shoot at an unmarked car carrying Annapolis Officer Erika Bristow and Drug Enforcement Agent Tommy Cindric was unclear, but prosecutors speculated that he may have felt they showed him a lack of respect. When he waved at them as they waited in Betsy Court, they waved him off. He went into an apartment, emerged with a handgun and fired an estimated five shots, none of which struck the car or its occupants.

"It was so unreal. It happened like it was in motion," Bristow said yesterday, after the brief court hearing.

After the shooting, Williams went into an apartment and police cordoned off the area. He did not respond to their calls, but he may have been asleep, lawyers said. When police tapped on a window and motioned for him to pick up the phone, he did - and emerged for arrest soon after.

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