Evaluation of PTSD in Maryland Assault Case

parking-934650-mIn a recent Maryland case, a criminal defendant had fired a rifle towards his ex-girlfriend in a parking garage. She was hiding behind her car. The defendant had moved into his girlfriend’s apartment complex in Bethesda. She wanted to take things more slowly, but he took an apartment in the floor above hers in the same building. He was disappointed by the fact that she didn’t help him move in, and she was not happy about how fast things were progressing. She broke up with him shortly thereafter.

A few nights after that, the defendant saw the victim leaving her place with a male friend. He texted her. He came to her apartment around midnight when she and the friend came back. He didn’t get that she had broken up with him and stayed in the hallway even after they were done talking. She was scared to be alone, so the friend stayed and the defendant texted her through the night.

The victim found that somebody had vandalized her car the night before. The police responded to the call and advised her to get a no-contact order against the defendant. The defendant asked her to withdraw the no-contact order and continued to text her.

A few days later, she went to her car in the parking garage. She glanced up and saw the defendant on a ramp between the third and fourth floors of the garage. He was stooping down and pointing a rifle at her. She got out of the car and hid behind the car’s bumper. He still pointed the rifle at her. A shot rang out. The gun was not pointed at her anymore, so she ran into the apartment and called 911. The defendant sent her some more texts expressing that he wouldn’t have really hurt her.

The police told her to respond by telling him to turn himself in. He did so. The police investigation turned up an ammunition box. Three rounds were gone. The defendant was charged with failing to comply with a peace order, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree murder, and carrying a dangerous weapon with intent to injure. The defendant was evaluated for mental health issues and was found competent to stand trial. The doctor did not think his PTSD affected his conduct.

On the day of the trial, he moved for a continuance on the grounds that a psychologist had given a report that he most likely suffered from PTSD at the time of the attack. The psychologist stated she would need time to determine whether he suffered brain damage and whether the PTSD had triggered his behavior.

The State opposed on the grounds that the case had already been delayed and continued and that the defendant continued to try to contact the victim. The trial court denied, finding that the mental health issues had nothing to do with events in question. It also found that the defendant clearly wanted to avoid incarceration and was malingering.

The trial went forward. The defendant did not testify and did not put on evidence. He was convicted and sentenced to life with 25 years suspended on the attempted first-degree murder charge. He appealed.

He argued first that detectives on the case should not have been permitted to testify as lay witnesses about information that required an expert to testify. He also argued he was entitled to a continuance. On the second point, the appellate court explained that one expert had already deemed him competent to stand trial. The trial court had properly exercised its discretion in not permitting him to try to rebut the finding on the eve of trial. The judgment was affirmed in all respects.

If you are arrested or charged with a crime, you should consult with an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney. We will develop a strong strategy to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.

More Blogs

Criminal Email Harassment in Maryland,  Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2014

Bill of Particulars in Maryland Criminal Defense, Maryland Criminal Lawyer Blog, January 25, 2014

 

 

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