Baltimore woman found not criminally responsible for murder

Committed to mental health facility

March 15, 2011|By Tricia Bishop, The Baltimore Sun

D'Lana Simmons was found "not criminally responsible" on Tuesday for the beating death of her 66-year-old aunt last year, using the steering wheel locking device known as "The Club" as a murder weapon.

"This was a clear case of somebody who was psychotic," Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin said, reading from a doctor's report on Simmons' mental status.

Simmons struck her aunt, Cecelia Mitchell, approximately 56 times on the evening of Sept. 17, then called 911 for help "stating that she had hurt her aunt and that [the woman] was dying," Assistant State's Attorney Tonya LaPolla told the court. Simmons was covered in blood when police arrived.

"The evidence [against her] appears to be pretty strong," Rasin said. The judge allowed Simmons to plead guilty to first-degree murder and possession of a deadly weapon with the intent to injure, but found after reviewing medical records that she wasn't criminally responsible.

Simmons, 35, spent several months at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center, a mental health facility, being evaluated after the crime. She was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, according to a 22-page private medical report summarized aloud by the judge.

The report claimed that Simmons was hallucinating at the time of the murder and irrationally believed that her aunt had become a demon she had to kill.

Rasin committed Simmons to the Perkins hospital, where she will be held until she's no longer considered a danger to herself or others.

Mitchell's only granddaughter, Dominique Griffin, decried the decision and claimed that Simmons had duped the doctors.

"It's just frustrating to me that one day she'll be able to live free again … and my grandmother is gone," Griffin said.

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