Murderer Wants Out Of Hospital

He Was Commited After Killing Mother, Teen Girl

July 11, 2009|By Don Markus | Don Markus,

Nearly eight years after a Howard County judge found Benjamin Hawkes not criminally responsible for killing his mother and a teenage girl living in his family's Columbia home, Hawkes is trying to gain his release from a state psychiatric hospital.

Hawkes, now 34, was in Circuit Court on Friday, where his lawyers told Judge Diane O. Leasure that three psychiatrists agreed with the recommendation of an administrative judge to give Hawkes a "therapeutic release" from the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center.

"This is a case when the experts really don't disagree," said Public Defender Brad Hersey.

Assistant state's attorneys Mary Murphy and Brian Furlong argued that the brutality of the homicides as well as the fact that Hawkes will never be fully cured of schizophrenia and other mental disorders could lead to him committing other heinous acts.

"The fact that the defendant is responding to medication does not make him less dangerous," Murphy said.

Leasure said she would review Hawkes' case before making a ruling.

On Feb. 11, 2001, Hawkes killed his 59-year-old mother, Mary Jane, and 18-year-old Teena Wu. According to prosecutors, Hawkes beat his mother on the head and body with a sledgehammer, then stabbed her 12 times. He killed Wu in a similar manner.

Murphy said that Hawkes went as far as to eat some of his mother's brain matter.

The attack came a day after Hawkes was released from Howard County General Hospital, where he had gone to seek treatment for his psychological problems. After the killings, Hawkes sued the hospital, seeking $10 million in damages.

As a 12-year-old, Hawkes had been hospitalized for over a month because of severe anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

According to Hersey, the 130-page testimony of Dr. Anna Cervantes of the Perkins Hospital Center concluded that Hawkes should be released from the Jessup facility, as recommended in May by Administrative Judge Michael Wallace. Hersey said that two other psychiatrists, including one hired by the state, concurred.

But Murphy argued that Cervantes never really came to any firm conclusion on whether Hawkes presented a danger if allowed to live and work in the community. Hawkes has attended classes at Howard Community College and used the gym there before he was told that his workouts were in violation of his confinement at Perkins.

Murphy also said that some of Hawkes' other problems - he sexually abused a relative, who escaped the day of the attacks and called police - should also make him a potential risk should he be released. Hersey said that Hawkes' relative wrote a note encouraging his release.

"The family supports his release," Hersey said after the hearing.

No family members were in court Friday.

Disputing Murphy's contention that a private psychiatric facility would not provide the same supervision as a state hospital, Hersey said that Hawkes would be watched just as closely.

"There's going to be supervision anywhere he goes," Hersey said.

While Hersey said he believes his client could function in society if properly medicated, Murphy said that Hawkes' propensity toward violence should not be forgotten.

"We have to look at the past to look at the future," she said.

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