Insanity claimed in strangling of inmate

April 07, 2006|By JENNIFER MCMENAMIN | JENNIFER MCMENAMIN,SUN REPORTER

Lawyers for Kevin G. Johns Jr., the twice-convicted killer charged with strangling a fellow inmate last year on a prison bus en route from Hagerstown to Baltimore, have filed an insanity plea in his defense.

In papers filed this week in Worcester County Circuit Court and later received by Baltimore County prosecutors, defense attorneys wrote that Johns is not criminally responsible by reason of insanity for the death of inmate Philip E. Parker Jr.

"At the time of the criminal conduct, because of a mental disorder or mental retardation, [Johns] lacked the substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law," the lawyers wrote.

Two inmates testified at a motions hearing in January that they saw Johns choke Parker during the Feb. 2, 2005, bus ride, with the waist chain to which Johns' wrists were shackled and with his arm. One inmate also described watching another prisoner spit razor blades out of his mouth and hand them to Johns, who tried to cut Parker's neck.

Charged with first-degree murder, Johns, 23, could be sentenced to death if convicted. The case was transferred to Worcester County after defense attorneys requested a change of venue.

Parker, 20, was serving a 3 1/2 -year prison sentence for attempting to rob two youths with a broken pellet gun.

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