Trial delay is granted in fatal-poisoning case

Time given to evaluate teen-ager's mental state

January 07, 2004|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

The trial of an Ellicott City teen-ager accused of fatally poisoning a high school classmate with cyanide last year was postponed yesterday until May 10 after state mental health professionals said they needed more time to evaluate his state of mind at the time of the killing.

Lawyers for Ryan T. Furlough, 19, have filed an insanity plea. Howard Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr., who is handling the case, said yesterday that officials at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, the state's maximum security mental hospital, are waiting for records detailing Furlough's psychiatric history.

Perkins officials have asked for 30 more days to complete their report - more than the time remaining before the Jan. 26 trial date, court officials said.

"Obviously the state would like to get this matter over and done with, but this issue was put out there," said prosecutor Mary Murphy.

Kane scheduled the trial for May and motions for April 8.

Furlough, of the 3500 block of Rhode Valley Trail, is charged with murder in the death of 17-year-old Benjamin Edward Vassiliev, a Centennial High School classmate, on Jan. 8 last year.

He is being held without bond at the Howard County Detention Center.

Vassiliev began having seizures Jan. 3 last year, while playing video games in the basement of Furlough's house, and Furlough later admitted in a police interview that he used cyanide bought over the Internet to spike his friend's soda, according to charging documents.

Vassiliev died five days later.

During a bail hearing, one of Furlough's lawyers said the teen-ager suffered from severe depression and initially had planned to commit suicide.

Furlough also told investigators that he had been "thinking" about killing Vassiliev for a few months, according to charging documents.

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