Killer's 'Non-sentence' Upsets Victim's Father

August 05, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,

The father of a 24-year-old woman who was stabbed to death in a Catonsville liquor store nine months ago is furious that her killer has been declared not criminally responsible for his act - Maryland's equivalent of an insanity defense.

Mike Ring, whose daughter, Aysha D. Ring, was killed in the attack, told a Baltimore Circuit Court judge last week that the assailant, David A. Briggs, pretended to be mentally ill after the killing, a "ruse of mental incapacitation" designed to deceive the criminal-justice system and avoid its worst penalties.

Briggs, 23, was committed to the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup, and will stay there until doctors deem him no longer a threat.

"My daughter deserved much better than this from our so-called justice system," the woman's father wrote this week in an e-mail to The Baltimore Sun. He called the court's decision a "non-sentence imposed upon my daughter's killer."

Ring was attending Anne Arundel Community College and working at Baltimore's Cristo Rey Jesuit High School when the apparently random stabbing took her life.

Her father told the court that those who assessed Briggs' mental health "blatantly disregarded the facts of the case due to their inability to accept that not all violent crimes are committed due to a mental or chemical imbalance in offenders." He did not respond to a message seeking clarification.

Briggs is entitled to ask an administrative law judge for a hearing within 50 days of his commitment to argue for his freedom.

"But they know that, realistically, a judge is not likely to find that they're ready for release," said Susan Steinberg, director of forensic services at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "These people are not usually released in a year or two. It's usually several years down the road."

A day after Ring's death, Briggs was found naked and incoherent in the chapel of a homeless shelter in Washington, Pa., 30 miles south of Pittsburgh.

"He was reading from Revelations and talking about the end of the world and the end of his life," said Sgt. David Bradley of the Washington police, who was summoned to the scene. "He made a comment that he had sinned. We really didn't know what he was talking about."

Tim Hogan, an employee of the shelter, said Briggs was "chanting and making rhythmic sounds that were mostly unintelligible - it was mostly gibberish."

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